Retail & Distribution

Decreasing emails by 40% and uncovering surprising tactics: How Hackett and The White Company transformed retail operations with Cegid Retail Store Excellence

25 October 2023

Decreasing emails by 40% and uncovering surprising tactics: How Hackett and The White Company transformed retail operations with Cegid Retail Store Excellence
7 min
When it comes to detailed metrics of customer interaction and ensuring visual cohesion with the brand, online stores have traditionally had a distinct advantage over their brick-and-mortar counterparts. But, as technology has evolved, so too has the retail operations piece.

The Importance of Physical Retail: Insights from The White Company and Hackett

In a recent Drapers webinar moderated by Graeme Moran, which also featured Cegid’s Amy Bastow, Hackett’s Ramon Zevallos, and The White Company’s Debbie Kitchen discussed why physical retail is still important for their customers and what surprised them most when implementing Cegid Retail Store Excellence.

While the debate about the future of the High Street still lingers, in a number of cases, online isn’t always better, as Kitchen explained: “The key thing about The White Company, is we do such a wide range of products, that we’re very much about the touch, the smell and people want to experience that. So, while online is still huge for us, people want to come in and touch the fabrics of the bedlinen that they’re purchasing, smell the candles etc. Whilst we do a brilliant job of bringing it to life, there’s nothing like walking into one of our stores and smelling the latest fragrance.”

Zevallos agreed “post-pandemic we saw a big influx. We saw that it was all about the experiences in store. Our Regent Street location we actually have a bar on the first floor.”


Challenges in the Retail Landscape: Brexit, Training, and Rising Costs

Yet despite the larger impact of the pandemic largely behind us, challenges still exist for retail, with Brexit meaning staff leaving and new employees needing to be trained, while energy and payroll costs have also increased.

Employees are also one of the biggest and often underutilised assets in the retail operations piece as Bastow explained: “Everyone talks about customer experience. But you can’t deliver a great customer experience if you haven’t got your team lined up and able to do it. I did a talk with Robert Newstead who works for PVH. He was talking about how they have really focussed on the store associate experience on the basis that if you don’t get that right, then your customer experience is never going to work because your people aren’t effective and aren’t going to deliver.”


Streamlining Technology for Efficiency: Insights from Cegid Retail Store Excellence

Bastow also spoke about how over the years many retailers had experimented with lots of different tech solutions in a fragmented way and that now was the time to reduce and consolidate technology investments to improve efficiency. From The White Company’s perspective, Kitchen added “We did go down a journey of using some other technology but found it was just too complicated and it didn’t work for us.”

On the benefits of a streamlined platform like Cegid Retail Excellence, Kitchen added: “We knew we needed something really simple.”

Kitchen continued “Before we had lots of different ways of asking stores to do things from different tasks. So, whether it was a health and safety compliance, daily, monthly or weekly check they need to do. But lots of it was just reliant on the stores remembering that it was a monthly check or whatever. So, what this has allowed us to do, which was really important for us, was to get some structure and some consistency, and rather than everybody remembering to do things at different times, what we’ve been able to do is really go through and look at what is the rhythm and routine throughout a day, a week, a month, a year and schedule things in which has been absolutely brilliant for us. We’re seeing some really fantastic results, particularly with anything compliance-driven because it is set up as part of their daily activity. They can’t complete it the next day retrospectively. But what it also does for us, is it tells us immediately on our dashboard who has done what and when. While it’s about driving efficiencies for the stores it was about driving efficiency for myself and my team, so we weren’t having to spend ages chasing stores. It’s all really visible and easy to track.”


Benefits of Cegid Retail Excellence: Insights from The White Company and Hackett

Using Cegid Retail Excellence for compliance was also an important factor for Zevallos but he also explained how technology can be more engaging for staff through using gamification or surveys to test product knowledge. “We do little pieces like that to boost engagement to use the tool but also use it to incentivise too.”

Teams have also responded well to embracing Cegid Retail Excellence at The White Company too as Kitchen added “the engagement from day one was outstanding. In our first six months we had over 12 and a half thousand photos shared from our stores back to us because they were so excited about sharing them. From doing simple things like the compliance checklists, you could see that they were actually doing it. But we ran surveys to see how they felt about it, what we could do better, we still do that. It was just having it all in one place and somewhere really simple for them to look. Rather than having to run off the shop floor and go and log into a computer or check a phone or do this. It’s really simple, it’s on their iPad, it’s in front of them. It’s just made their lives easy. ”

For Zevallos, embracing technology in stores was about simplifying and reducing missed communications and getting rid of unsuitable practices. “I used to go into stores and see post-it notes everywhere and I’d be like why are we doing this? If that falls down, I’m not going to be able to communicate from that closing manager to maybe the next day’s opening manager.”

“We have a lot of communications between different store brands and from the office to the store teams. That’s where we saw a lot of the messaging getting lost in translation because maybe it was only via email. There is WhatsApp, there is phone calls, text messages out there etc. And we really needed to streamline to make sure the stores’ team knew what was happening as a group, as a brand.”


Tech-Driven Engagement: Gamification, Surveys, and Streamlined Communication

But technology can also highlight if managers are overwhelming their staff as Kitchen explained: “Cegid will help us and give us a deep dive into the data. You can have this gut feel that you think you’re doing a really brilliant job of what you’re sending out but actually, the numbers and statistics might tell you otherwise. That was one of the things that we saw very early on. We didn’t want to send comms to stores on a Friday and we thought we were brilliant at doing that and actually as soon as we saw the first round of statistics, we thought crikey there’s 15% going out on a Friday – what is it? And we were able to unpick that which really helped with the engagement with stores. The engagement with the teams is huge and invaluable.”


Reducing Email Overload: Tangible Benefits of Cegid Retail Excellence

Reducing the volume of emails that staff were receiving was also important for Zevallos: “That was one thing I was asking my IT. Can we see what is the comms from email? We had about a 40% decrease in our emails, and it was all through the help of this tool.”

Bastow added that she’d had similar feedback from other customers: “We have a customer that went live last year who sent me an email this week saying they’ve saved 25% of their field teams time just by being able to make things neater and clearer. For your field teams that’s a huge increase in productivity. Most store estates are run very tightly so you’re not going to save any payroll but it’s about what you do with the time that you save. And then of course you can take out a lot of paper. We’ve had someone who’s saved £80,000 a year of paper. The big benefits are around making life easier for store teams, the engagement, brand consistency, and ultimately driving sales.”


Beyond ROI: Aesthetics and Brand Consistency in Retail Technology

Aside from the tangible ROI, the aesthetics of the platform also had a huge impact on engagement as Kitchen explained: “The platform feels like us, it’s ours. Everything from the wording, the tone of voice, the photography, the fonts that we use on the platform – it’s the White Company through and through. When you can log into a platform and see beautiful photography or things that feel familiar to them, it makes such a difference.”

A point Zevallos agreed with: “The tool really felt like it was a Hackett tool and it provided not only just the imagery or the product videos etc but it really fit the DNA. And that was one of the probably trickier things. As launching this tool as a group, we have Pepe Jeans, we wanted it to look and feel like Pepe Jeans. When a Hackett store logs into their link, they’ll see the Hackett images.”

Ultimately, technology can transform retail operations but as Bastow acknowledged earlier on it’s about empowering store associates with technology so they can deliver the best customer experience possible. “It’s about giving people clarity about what’s expected. And giving people the information so it’s easy for them to do what they’re being asked to do.”

A point echoed by Zevallos “We’ve seen efficiencies and less times on email and WhatsApp etc and gave the store teams more time to focus on what we needed which was the customers.”

Watch the Drapers Webinar replay now

Discover the insights, strategies, and success stories directly from industry leaders in the Drapers webinar featuring Cegid’s Amy Bastow, Hackett’s Ramon Zevallos, and The White Company’s Debbie Kitchen. Gain valuable perspectives on how technology can revolutionise your retail experience.

Watch now

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