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Retail organizations, just like football teams, need the right people using the right tools at the right time to break records

It doesn’t start with a dance.  In a world where millions are watching, the Baltimore Ravens’ Jacoby Jones ran 108 yards to celebrate the longest post-season kickoff return touchdown in NFL history at last Sunday’s Super Bowl. As the spotlight shone squarely on the wide receiver’s victory dance, fans rushed online to talk about it at the rate of 185,000 comments a minute.

We marvel at Jones’ personal achievement.  The 28-year-old Louisiana native saw the right opportunity and ran like the wind, but we also know the important thing – the critical thing – is that this game-clinching moment required a team effort.  Without strategic planning, intensive training, dedicated coaching, and flawless execution, no records would have been broken.  Touchdowns take teamwork.

In the world of retail where millions are served, customer satisfaction takes teamwork, too.  Retailers need to come up with series-winning strategies to achieve or surpass their financial goals.  This requires the integrated effort of every department in an organization:

  • Marketing and Merchandising need to study the playing field and obtain a deep understanding of what customers want – often before they even know they want it. They have to scout for the right merchandise to keep on their roster and know when to put them on the field in order to foster an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand.
  • Procurement and Fulfilment need to keep inventory in play, acting nimbly to pass the right amount of inventory at the right time, ensuring satisfied customers and profitable stores.  This sometimes requires calling an audible at a moment’s notice and changing up your play based on real-time circumstances.
  • Store Management and Store Associates need a playbook in their hands to have the right product information, product availability, and demand insight in real time.  Without that, they risk fumbling customers who lose interest and walk out empty-handed. 
  • Last but not least, all of these different departments need to rely on the broad shoulders of a front line IT infrastructure scalable, agile, and reliable enough to handle unimaginably heavy loads of big data at the drop of a hat.

Not one of these elements is more important than the other, and success depends on each part of the organization performing at its best.  Just like Jacoby Jones and the Baltimore Ravens, retailers need to analyze their playing field, identify ways to perform better, and execute their plans to score big wins.  It doesn’t start with a dance, but when we keep our eye on the prize and score touchdowns (or satisfy our customers) it sure ends with one.

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