Issues Facing Retailers- Part 1: Process

Jun 2019Blog

Often we are asked, “What are the issues retailers are facing within their Buying and Planning departments?”.

In this blog, we breakdown one of the top issues we find,

No clear process or ways of working, resulting in mass confusion.

The term process or ways of working tends to have a marmite reaction; you either love it or hate it. Many retailers find themselves in an extended state of process limbo, where tasks to tackle issues become too complicated to resolve.  We usually find these issues separate into two groups.

Too Fast to Process…

These organisations are fast-paced traders focused on outputs and goals. They find they encounter several problems;


  • They miss significant efficiencies and synergies
  • Errors are made, losing the business time and money
  • Junior members of the team are unable to complete tasks without senior input
  • Each team completes tasks differently affecting the businesses’ agility and ability to move employees when required
  • Golden ways of working are stuck with individuals or teams, these are lost if the employee leaves the business
  • An attitude of “We’re too busy for structured ways of working” is fostered, meaning tasks are completed in the quickest, easiest way resulting in mistakes and missed

Too Heavy to Process…

These organisations are established retailers with large head counts and vast product ranges spread across multiple areas. They are complex since they accommodate different customer journeys. They have defined ways of working that have evolved over a long period of time, incorporating historical and current ways of thinking. They find they encounter a number of issues;


  • Inconsistent understanding across team members
  • On-boarding procedures fail to embed knowledge affecting on-boarding success and retention levels
  • Too many amendments and changes, leaving employees uncertain of the objectives and expectations
  • It’s old, out of date and is no longer useful and efficient
  • It’s cumbersome and complicated, stopping the team from being agile and fulfilling their role to the best of their ability
  • Employees executing the tasks do not understand why it’s done this way, resulting in disengagement in the tasks and mass frustration

Our Approach

Tackling these issues can seem daunting and time-consuming; we have found many ways to combat these issues, leading to positive business outcomes, efficiencies, engagement and clarity.  

Keep it topline

There is a big temptation to fall down the rabbit hole and fix everything now. This will only lead to process owners becoming overwhelmed and an ‘us versus them’ mentality. Always start topline, compile a definite end-to-end view of the critical tasks involved.

Understand what’s important

Be clear on what’s important to the business and what’s important to the teams performing the task. The priorities for the business and the teams are often different. Prioritising a team issue can reap the rewards with engagement.

Understand the individual pain points

Ways of working can stretch across teams and functions, resulting in blocks and pressure points. Breaking down and defining the severity of these blocks and pressure points is key to achieving positive change.

Secure bottom-up input

A lack of stakeholder engagement is the number one reason process improvements fail; employees want to contribute and to share ideas.

Set improvement goals

Ensure they are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. Articulate the goals to your business, clarify the selection criteria and reiterate why these goals were chosen. Ask for honest feedback across several channels, addressing any concerns.

Make it clear, very simple and easy to digest

When writing process material, it’s easy to assume knowledge, over-complicate it and forget to include different mediums to deliver the content.  Ask team members from different areas of the business to review.

Agree on sign-off and implementation

Agree on sign-off and implementation before you launch. Consider what’s going on in your Is this the right time to initiate a process? Establish that managers are engaged and subject leaders are available to support.

Seasonally review business ways of working

As a retailer, you review your product, brands, stores, etc. each season. Is there room to consider how we did things and whether we need to examine our ways of working?

If these issues have resonated with you and you would like to know more, please get in touch.


Email –

Linkedin – Jade Hindle

Call us: +61 3 9694 4455


Numensa is a boutique agency, run by leading experts in the retail industry, specialising in retail consulting, business transformation, and training.