Facilities leaders in the retail industry have it remarkably tough. They face all the same challenges as workplace leaders in other industries that require facilities management (such as optimizing space utilization, fielding work order requests and encouraging greater workforce productivity), but a mess of unique challenges give them headaches.
Proper maintenance of facilities can be very complicated. With a constant stream of challenges and obstacles, identifying these issues and and establishing the most efficient and effective ways to overcome them is the key to remaining at the forefront of the industry
Here are three of the most common facilities management (FM) issues retail facilities leaders face and how to fix them.
Issue No. 1: Multiple Locations with Diverse Needs
Retail facilities leaders aren’t just dealing with a single location or even several similar locations. They manage resources and workspaces across multiple kinds of facilities, including distribution centers, retail stores and corporate offices. Each building varies in age (which affects maintenance strategy), prioritizes a different type of “user” (customers or employees) and has a unique set of demands, processes and challenges.
For example, a retail store is concerned with receiving, shelving and selling merchandise. On the other hand, a distribution center deals not only with receiving but also breaking down, storing and shipping merchandise. These facilities require completely different tools, systems and workflows, which makes standardizing processes across an entire portfolio of stores extremely difficult.
Managing multiple locations isn’t a one-person gig—it requires a strong team of facilities professionals, executive support and the right technologies to automate responsibilities and help retail facilities leaders keep a pulse on every aspect of every location.
In addition to a well-trained team, facilities management software is mission-critical, as is a centralized database and reporting center that collects information about work order requests, inventory, space utilization and more.
Issue No. 2: Variable Inventory Demands
Seasonal events like kids going back to school and Black Friday drive significant (and often unpredictable) inventory demands for retailers.
In addition to ensuring the correct types and volumes of merchandise are on the shelves, retail facilities professionals must ensure the proper levels of staff are present and the necessary equipment and resources are available. If operational needs aren’t met behind the scenes, service will suffer and the locations will struggle to handle the bigger demand.
Sophisticated inventory tracking software is a retail FM must. With real-time insight into stock, quantity and cost information, retail facilities leaders can respond immediately to changes in demand. They can also set thresholds for different products and receive automatic notifications when thresholds are met.
Most importantly, these systems create detailed reports which will help retail facilities professionals accurately forecast and prepare for the next high-demand shopping event.
Issue No. 3: New Technology and Available Data
Technology has completely reshaped the role of retail facilities leaders. Years ago, their primary objective was to handle maintenance concerns. But now, workplace leaders dedicate their days to collecting and analyzing data.
With specialized software, smart sensors and the Internet of Things (IoT), data is pouring in like floodwater, and retail facilities leaders are responsible for translating all that data into business action. While facilities management professionals welcome the intel because it helps them create a healthier, more efficient workspace, it can also be overwhelming and difficult to process in real time.
As technology continues to drive changes in facilities management, workplace leaders must take an adaptive approach, investing in an IWMS well with other solutions. This helps to eliminate siloed information, simplify complex issues and help retail facilities leaders understand their real estate portfolio on both a micro and macro level. Lastly, they need to find solutions that offer plenty of automation and reporting. There is simply too much data to digest manually and with sophisticated software, there’s no need to.
If there’s one thing retail facilities leaders can count on, it’s that standardizing processes, forecasting demand and fielding data will continue to intensify their already-stressful jobs. But with the right technologies in place, it is possible to rise to the challenge.
Interested in finding out how real organizations embrace, integrate and measure workplace technology? Check out our free guide, The Workplace Leader’s Playbook for New Technology.
Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published in February 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and relevance.