Why the BHS failure must encourage retailers to adopt an internal digital strategy if they are to survive

The news of BHS going into administration this week triggered a thought in my mind about how, if other similar mature retailers are to survive, surely they need to assess not just their customer facing communication strategy and channels (which naturally must now be online, digital and tech channel focused) but also their internal communications strategy and channels too?

As much as brands are constantly seeking to improve the shopping experience for their customers and can no longer rely on store traffic alone for custom, they must also look to improve the working environment and experience for a tech savvy generation in their employees. Latest employee engagement figures highlight that the retail sector loses GBP628 million per year by failing to inspire its employees, and according to brand engagement agency Maverick, retail employees are some of the most disengaged in the UK. Surely something must be done to instil company beliefs, yet engage and encourage workers to be more productive and ultimately impact the bottom line?

Empowering employees with the latest digital workplace tools can ensure that they feel more valued in their role, and so are more willing to do what it takes to meet targets, whether that is revenue driven or customer focused. Having a centralised and integrated social intranet for retail employees to turn to for company news, advice or motivation can boost morale in workers that are likely already concerned for their job security and the future of their employer. This is particularly so when there is a breakdown in communication between Head Office and stores. Over 86% of retail employees feel that change is not communicated clearly enough from leadership, however by implementing an intranet, senior figures can communicate change more effectively via blogging whilst simultaneously appearing more accessible and accountable to dispersed workers.

Further to this, with a third of retail workers being under the age of 25, it is critical to ensure that employers are meeting their millennial workers’ needs by providing workplace tools and technology that keeps young workers engaged whilst also improving their productivity.

AO.com are a prime example of how a retailer is remaining successful in a highly saturated market, not just by their strong online presence and branding, but also how they are embracing social enterprise technology internally.

Laura Pickup, Communications Manager at AO.com remarks “winning the “Employer of the Year at the 2015 Retail Week Awards was a great honour for us and we believe that the roll out of a social intranet has been a critical step in achieving this. Our intranet ‘The Fridge’ engages call centre staff and creates one central place for our employers to share ideas, whether that be around work projects or social events.”

Similar thoughts are shared by ASOS, who have a 3 point internal mission statement, forming the foundation upon which their intranet is built: “love customers, nail the basics, and make it up as we grow along”.

It seems that in order for retailers to survive and be successful, they need to always be striving to engage their workers, keep their customers happy and evolve their processes to keep up with the demands of today’s digitally focused society.