Part of making the busy retail season a success is empowering employees to work together and work efficiently. Employees are under constant pressure to update the store with new products, promotions and displays in the final months of the year. Especially in the world of fast fashion, top-down communication is key to guaranteeing a successful and accessible in-store team that keeps consumers happy.
Mobile communication has become an important factor in this communication. Just ask rue21, the fashion retailer that has 760 stores throughout the U.S. Last holiday season, the retailer was struggling to create a cohesive communication strategy among employees. It then teamed up with APPrise Mobile to launch a branded employee communications app called rueStore.
The new app allowed corporate leaders to better communicate with their majority millennial workforce in individual stores through mobile devices.
Some of the highlights of the rueStore app include the ability of store leaders staff to send employees instant communication through messaging and push notifications. In addition, the app can push daily messages with visuals or other digital recaps before a shift even ends. And finally, the app can offer training content that previously had been stored in large, paper binders.
Jeff Corbin, APPrise’s founder and CEO, said that rue21 was a pioneer in using mobile apps to communicate with employees.
Rue21 started talking with APPrise about theEMPLOYEEapp in early 2016 and quickly realized that there was a great opportunity to help their employees get instantaneous and simultaneous updates.
"The concept of having a branded app through which to communicate and engage with a front-line workforce was a new one. Once they saw theEMPLOYEEapp platform and realized how quick and cost-effective it was to implement a mobile employee communications and engagement strategy, they made a quick decision to work with us," Corbin told FierceRetail.
Within a matter of weeks, rue21’s app was ready for content. The same was true regarding the integration of their employee database into theEMPLOYEEapp system so that only active employees would have access to rueStore and its content.
"Rue21 was very strategic in its deployment of its employee app. They started with management level employees to ensure they had ambassadors who would then promote the value and importance of rueStore at the store level and to all front-line employees," Corbin said.
So why aren't more retailers using this type of communication between employees? Corbin said that many retailers are not yet thinking of mobile as a way to simultaneously and instantaneously communicate with a workforce. Many brands are also not doing their research to figure out the best way to incorporate mobile as a means to engage with employees.
"As mentioned above, rue21 really was a pioneer. Based on the many conversations we are now having, more companies in retail as well as other industries with disparate, non-deskbound workforces will embrace this concept in the near future," he added.
Corbin says that theEMPLOYEEapp was developed with the non-deskbound employee in mind as well as for organizations that are not centralized. It also serves well for retailers with a large part-time workforce and those that don’t provide their employees with corporate email addresses. The solution is meant to work in any retail environment, but certainly has the most value for brands with multiple shopping locations.
And Corbin stressed that mobile's importance in the workforce will continue to grow. In fact, a recent study from theEMPLOYEEapp reveals that 41% of workplace managers believe that mobile tech will be the best way to communicate with employees from Generation Z.
"It is important to keep in mind that this generation never knew a day without a mobile device," Corbin added. "Companies therefore need to rethink how they distribute content and communicate information to their employees for several reasons: First they are going to start demanding it; second, the end user experience of consuming and viewing content is very different in a 2x4-inch screen as compared to a larger monitor; and third, great efficiencies and cost savings will result from a better understanding of how workers best consume information and what will allow them to be more effective and successful at their jobs. Since theEMPLOYEEapp includes robust analytics, they now have access to information they never before had in terms of employees’ communications behaviors."
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