Retail Store Visits (or that time I wandered around the mall)

US Shopping MallIt’s good to get out of the office every so often and see what’s going on in the real world. Last week, I spent a few hours at the local mall visiting popular retail stores. Given that SpendBoss makes software designed to make Store Managers lives easier, I was curious to talk with a few to see if i could get hint of what they were doing in between serving customers.

After about 6 conversations and 10 different store visits, I saw three areas of focus in terms  of Store Manager efficiency; technology, the back-room and applications.


Surprisingly, none of the stores I visited had tablets. About half of the Store Managers I spoke with told me that they would have them in their stores by next year. One very experienced Store Manager (25+ years retail experience) wasn’t thrilled about having to manage tablets and  said that it was just one more thing to worry about being stolen, broken and charged. He had a smile on his face about it, but I think he may have been serious!

Several of the stores had newly installed POS systems while a few others had new systems on the way. Because so few of the stores I visited didn’t have tablets, I didn’t ask about omni-channel ordering or have a chance to explore how else they are using technology to optimize efficiencies and drive revenue.

The Back Room

We made this video about Store Managers working in the back office, and sure enough, about half of the stores I visited had a “back room” where the computer was located. The other stores either had a PC off to the side, or had a PCs at the register. 

At one clothing retailer, the store associate working the register was all alone. I was standing across from the register and the alarm went off. The associate was checking a customer out when the alarm went off and was forced to say to his customer “I’m sorry, but I’ll be right back.” He then ran to the front of the store to see what was going on. I watched the customer’s reaction and all he could do was shake his head.


In talking with Store Managers, I learned that only a few had specific budgets allocated at the store level for indirect supplies. All of the stores had some sort of access to a corporate portal where they could order the things they need to run the store. One Store Manager actually showed me their store webpage which had a bunch of links on it to whatever they needed. I talked with her about how hard it was to use those tools and she thought it was easy enough.

At a another retailer, the Assistant Store Manager told me that while they had a portal, they did not have single sign-on and had to log into different sites to order their supplies which included 6 or 7 different vendors sites, each with a different user experience.

Store Managers are getting by with access to the applications and tools they need to run their stores, but there is a lot of room for improvement. As retailers roll out tablets and move to modern POS systems there is a huge opportunity to build a killer Store Manager experience and reap the rewards of increased store revenue and to potentially drive employee satisfaction and retention.

That’s what SpendBoss is focused on –  delivering incredible user experiences to Store Managers, while providing corporate the data and insights they need to drive down costs and enable their store personnel to focus on driving revenue.