By: Janet Hawkins, CEO & Founder Opterus Inc.

When we started Opterus I found a quote from George Bernard Shaw where he famously said, “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  I still think that is a major issue within the retail industry. What we heard and saw, several years ago, was the retail operations teams doing the best with what they could. They were a using combination of mail bags, email, faxes, etc. and trying to stay on top of store execution without any visibility unless they are in the store.  For some retailers, this is still the case. 


When Opterus first went to market with our solution, we had to sell the idea of an updated communications solution.  There weren’t many solutions around focused on meeting the needs of retail operation teams.  Now, there are several new solutions springing up, modeled after our “operations first” strategy.  We no longer have to sell the idea of a great communications solution and process to retail operations; they just get it.  They understand the countless benefits of a solution that can engage associates, increase efficiency and give them a 360-degree view of their enterprise.  But, for some of the higherups, I think an effective communication solution is still a bit of an afterthought.  With so much tech out there, when thinking about their overall strategy, I believe they are under the illusion that communication is just taking place. 


Communication to associates, to your entire retail hierarchy, is so important for the success of any other retail initiatives that you have.  If your associates are aware of your strategies, initiatives, your brand identity, etc. then they will do a much better job delivering an excellent shopping experience for your customer. This will make them more successful, feel included and keep them around.  And, associate retention is only one small side effect of using a great communications solution. 

Every strategy you design is around the customer. It could be experiential, designed to increase loyalty, setting, and delivering on customer expectations, etc. Your informed, confident, and prepared workforce are the ones on the front lines delivering your strategy. They need to be communicated and executed correctly.  In reality, before you focus on any other initiatives, you should think how you communicate and partner with a company that can provide you with a one-stop-shop for all your operational communication/tasking needs.