Executing branded environment programs at scale is never easy. When you throw in supply chain muddles, multiple parties to coordinate and incompatible technology, completing even a handful of stores a week seems impossible — let alone the 30 to 40 that the schedules demand.
The issue is ironically simple: Complexity.
Rollouts to hundreds or thousands of locations across the country include innumerable opportunities for inefficiencies and unexpected costs to arise. Developing and staying on the best path to success isn't easy.
So how does one get on that path? Here are four points to consider.
Beware of supplier partners that overpromise — and perhaps your own unrealistic expectations
A well-executed RFP attracts the best solution with the best pricing. RFPs that clearly define project requirements, deadlines and budgets provide vendors the parameters they will need to work within. They also engage with potential partners asking questions and seeking more clarity to ensure that their team, resources and capabilities match the demands of the RFP.
Otherwise, there can be surprises and friction during rollout — out-of-scope work, exit & low-volume penalties, rush-job charges — that ruin budgets, timelines and end results.
Shared clarity matters, as does the vendor’s track record.
Make sure software and communications systems are aligned
Surprisingly, an easy-to-avoid hold-up is to ensure that you work through the technology touchpoints before you begin. Are there billing and procurement systems to integrate? What is the process for purchase orders and change orders? Are you set up in your supplier’s system to eliminate potential delays down the road?
And once the program basics are connected, look for a supplier partner that has leading technology to manage the program. Best-in-class options are intuitive, centralized, customizable and require little to no training to use.
These systems provide transparency across survey management, location attributes, floorplans, orders, shipping, scheduling, inventory and installation progress for multi-unit operations. This allows you to never be uncertain about where things stand and what’s ahead.
Understand process, logistics and costs
Rolling out branded environments at scale involves a multitude of moving parts that need to be cohesively and efficiently brought together.
This alignment includes mutual understanding of material selections, as well as fixture assembly methods and end-user ergonomics that best fit your environment, on-site resources and budget. Be open to potential value engineering that could reduce costs and streamline custom installation.
Before rollout, insist on reviewing prototypes so you can give feedback before moving on to procurement and production. In-person surveys make sure décor and signage can be precisely implemented. Request the development of rollout-ready, clearly delineated kits of parts that accommodate a range of footprints and investment levels. Adopt an installation protocol guided by project managers who collaborate with design development, procurement, production, warehousing and boots-on-the-ground quality control.
Understanding an exacting process beforehand ensures that ISDs (in-store dates) are met and quality is maintained across multi-unit projects.
Learn quickly from early store go-backs
Even with great planning and communication, there can be program hiccups. That’s where an established, troubleshooting, problem-solving chain of command comes in. From installers to install managers to project managers, it knows where to take issues and then help deliver precise, efficient solutions.
Auditing pilot stores also often leads to valuable learnings that help streamline custom installation and ease of build or even how kit-packed boxes will be organized inside delivery trucks and offloaded into stores.
An attention to detail during the pilot builds leads to more efficient production, kit packing, distribution and installation over the entirety of the program.
It’s also how a program accelerates and scales the installation process from five or six stores a week to 30 or 40.
Retail innovation never stops — there is no finish line
Great planning, communication and attention to details during large-scale rollouts aren’t easy to establish and maintain. But the rewards for optimized environmental design and in-store execution are high — great customer experiences, increased brand loyalty and ROI.