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The inaugural Retail Forum for Process Excellence, sponsored by SSA & Company and organized by iSixSigma, was the first-ever conference event conducted on the topic of business process improvement in the retail sector. With more than 70 attendees from the retail and consumer product goods (CPG) industries, the conference focused on how retailers can leverage process excellence to reduce costs, drive revenue growth and cultivate systems of continuous improvement within their organizations. We hope you will find this summary of conference topics useful, and as always, we welcome your feedback and invite your questions.
Benchmarking and statistical evaluations are among the most useful and analytically rigorous tools available to retailers. However, many business leaders have never considered the potential flaws associated with their benchmarking methods. Presenters at the conference shared instances of how the numbers actually mislead business decisions:
A clear lesson can be gleaned from these presentations: numbers are useful, but notunto themselves. Benchmarking and metrics should be carefully designed to capture a real-time, accurate image of operations that negotiates the contours and variations of a business. Numbers bereft of this nuance are not only inaccurate, but potentially dangerous to a business looking to make process changes.
Leveraging an anthropological study of sales interactions conducted by SSA at three national retailers (a drug/pharmacy chain, a mid-range clothing retailer, and a consumer electronics retailer), presenters discussed the sales loss that can result when organizations do not execute on fundamental processes, such as customer engagement, consultative selling and customer management. The discussion was punctuated with estimates of the revenues that could be achieved if those same retailers were able to improve their sales and customer management performance by the smallest of margins.