TAKING PART IS
MORE IMPORTANT
THAN WINNING

COLUMN /
DIrk van eunen

It's great that in a turbulent sector like retail, there are things that are just the same every year. What are we going to do with Santa Claus? Can we do something different for Easter? Do we have a fall-back for the Dutch football team that has once again failed to make the final (and has lost retail about 100 million euros in extra sales)?  And, of course, whether someone has a nice prize for the annual internal store competition.

Every retailer has a shop competition where the branch and individual staff are assessed on pre-defined KPIs such as sales, service and shop hygiene. These important values are the same for most retailers every year, as are the five best-scoring shops. Isn't it wonderful that some things never seem to change in these turbulent times?

The shop competitions are a real party for the staff and there are often very nice prizes for the best-scoring shops. Of course, these great prizes are a way for head office to show how much the stores and their employees mean for them.

But that's where it often goes wrong. The prize awards have become the goal. In other words, it’s all about winning! Despite the fact that there are only a few shops that can win a prize. Most shops do not win, and since the budget for the competition has gone to the prizes or the party for the winners, the other stores only get to read a newsletter about who the lucky ones were this year. We'll do better next year!

What a shame! You hold a competition to improve your shops. You judge the stores on KPIs and provide feedback on the scores throughout the year. If your shop lags behind, head office, the district manager or - even better - another shop will advise you on how to improve. These improvements are preferably implemented immediately so that your customers experience them straight away, thus improving sales, service and the shop! It's a kind of coaching on the job.

Technically speaking, all of this is possible. The scores can be followed in real time so tips to improve your shop can be put into practice quickly. In fact, you can send booster emails to liven things up a bit: "Come on North Branch! Another 10,000 euros in additional sales and you're in the prizes." Or there are video tips from mystery shoppers that are recorded immediately after their visit and shared with the shop manager. That will improve things considerably!

And while I'm on the subject of modernising inter-shop competitions, take a good look at the KPIs.  Returns processing, click & collect orders and other lesser traditional shop tasks could well be given a place within the assessment.
"Yes, but that way shops that get all kinds of improvement tips can suddenly win", I hear the top five shouting anxiously. Rest assured, it won't work out like that. But an incentive prize for the shop with the biggest improvements will generate a lot of goodwill within the store and I truly believe that many more shops will actively pursue an improvement policy. This way, everyone wins!

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