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The Four P’s in Retail Stores – People, Product, POS, Performance

What can SAP do for retail store operations?  We help retail people serve shoppers with the right products, a pleasant point-of-sale experience, and then monitor store performance.  You can find specific solution information.  The point is it’s all to help the best in retail run better. 

The Four P’s of Store Operations:

Here’s an easy way to remember the specifics, that I call The Four P’s of Store Operations:

  • People
  • Product
  • POS
  • Performance

Let’s examine each in turn, to get a sense of how the 4 P’s come together to improve the retail store.


Store People are the soul of any retail business.  They are responsible for both culture of service and flawless execution.  Any retail manager can tell you that it is very hard to find and retain the best retail people, and to make sure they can balance optimized customer service with labor expenditure.  So how can SAP help?

There are two solution areas I see having a major impact here – employee and manager self service for SAP Human Capital Management (ESS/MSS), and SAP Workforce Management (WFM).

ESS reduces the administrative workload of store managers and empowers employees to manage their own HCM/HR needs. Simple tasks like managing personal information, benefits, programs, and other activities that are important to keeping staff engaged and morale high are in the hands of the employee with ESS. Store people are responsible for their own access to these HR programs. They gain choice and responsibility for themselves. This helps with staff engagement.  Manager self service takes it a step further, for those people at store level who manage the store associates.

Workforce Management combines two critical functions – iTimeclock and Labor Scheduling.  I’ve blogged a bit about SAP POS LOG: Tight Synergy between Point-of-Sale and Workforce Management before.  WFM is essential to making sure that the right people are working at the right time, that you can track the labor, and fit skills and labor cost to the calendar and budget.

When you have the right people in store, they need to ensure customers can find the product they are looking for, which brings us to the next topic, Product.


If you don’t have the product, you can’t make them happy. People will walk from your store if its not in stock.  According to a Food Marketing Institute report, a key resource for Grocery retailers, Out of Stock (OOS) rate is more than 8.3% on average.  How can SAP reduce this terrifyingly large number? 

At the store level, SAP In-Store Merchandise and Inventory Management (MIM) is the solution to help reduce the OOS risk.  This handy application can run on a handheld device, and is used to check stock levels, place orders, perform receiving, transfers, physical inventory/cycle counts, and to do quick checks on price and availability.  MIM is available to any company running SAP ERP (e.g. SAP IS Retail / ECC 6.0).  As a browser-based application, store people can access it anywhere in store.  If you joined me at SAPPHIRE NOW in the spring, we saw a prototype running on an iPAD, with even more capabilities weaved in.

If I haven’t got the product in-stock at the store, this is where omni-channel retail functionality can save the day. Using MIM or Point of Sale with Customer Order Management, store people can find or order product and save the sale.  Customers get a higher probability the product is in-stock, whether in store, or elsewhere in the supply chain.  So now that we’ve found the product, it’s time to pay at POS.


Call it Point-of-Sale, Point-of-Service, or whatever you will, its still where the moment-of-truth happens in a physical store. You can have the right people, and the right product, but if you blow it at the checkout, the shopper will remember for a very long time to come.

SAP Point of Sale has evolved a lot in the 21st century, managing to span the traditional cash management and control era with the omni-channel world of buy anywhere, anytime.  Our Mobile POS solution debuted in the mid 2000’s, before there was a sexy handheld and tablet. Ironically, people see Mobile as “new and hot”, and SAP has been there all along.  I’m hoping to see the Sybase Unwired Platform make its way into our POS solution in the future.  Partners have started showing new devices integrated as well.

The speed and convenience of checkout continue to shine, and the close coupling of POS checkout process to customer satisfaction will always be with us.  POS is the source of all in-store data, and once we gather that data in one place, we can measure Performance, the last and perhaps most important of our 4 P’s.


For years, retailers have sardonically joked about “Driving through the rear-view mirror”. Meaning of course that they have to look at yesterday’s results to see where they are headed tomorrow.  Don’t you think its time to put that to rest?

SAP’s POS Data Management brings all your store data together, combining a POS data workbench, sales audit, and reporting together in one place. It doesn’t matter whether you are running SAP POS, third party, or homebuilt.  It’s the hub for the transaction detail.

When combined with SAP Sales Analysis for Retail (SA4R), suddenly we can put up-to-the-moment key performance indicators into the hands of every store, regional, or district manager. Using the web-based power of SAP Business Objects, a tablet PC or laptop can instantly see how the store is performing.  Managers can get out on the floor immediately, and engage their staff, and lead them to improved performance.  Even 2 years ago, this capability was unthinkable – today, it’s easy with SAP.  Think your systems can’t keep up?  Talk to us about HANA, and how it can accelerate everything you are doing behind the scenes.

Four P’s to Run Stores Better

With the right people, product, and POS, retailers and companies with retail-style outlets can truly run better, and attain higher levels of performance.  Employees are more engaged, responsible for their own career and benefits, products can be sourced and inventoried, customer queries on the shop floor can be answered readily, and they leave the store satisfied, paying quickly and conveniently at POS.  Managers at the store or higher up the chain can see how everyone is doing at a glance, and can take immediate action to benefit all concerned.

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