With the recent uptick in the economy and associated growth in the retail industry, rollouts are something that we have been hearing a lot about lately. As a result, we thought we should put some thoughts down on what exactly that term encompasses when it comes to retail and restaurant chains. What became clear is that a rollout by definition can be many things, big or small, simple or complex: rolling out a new store design, initiating a visual merchandising campaign, upgrading fixtures, outfitting a new store, or introducing a new technology. It can be targeted one store at a time, over a period of time to multiple stores, or to all stores in a single short time period.

With a definition this broad, our original goal of trying to define a typical workflow for a rollout was starting to seem ambitious, so we decided to take a step back and examine the challenges facing a retail development department responsible for these refreshes, upgrades, and new sets. After some review, the complexity inherent in rollouts stems from the logistics of managing, tracking, and verifying satisfactory completion across the following variables:

  • Multiple vendors and contractors
  • Multiple locations and thus multiple layouts
  • Cost allocations and total cost
  • Individual feedback data and exceptions

With the above variables in the back of our mind we can begin to piece together a workflow and some good practices that are flexible enough to accommodate all the combinations but clear enough to capture and track all the required history, costs, and performance, and make that information available in a large overview (overall project level) and on a more granular level (individual store or vendor).

So. . . purchase, ship, receive, install, confirm satisfactory completion, report. Does that cover it? Not quite.  If you are rolling out to 500 or better yet 5000 stores, this all gets a little bit more complicated.  What tools can make this go more smoothly? A consolidated purchase and work order system can certainly help.  This facilitates the alignment of all of the variables we went through above into a single system: all of the possible locations (store list), a purchasing system and the requisite vendors, a work order system and requisite contractors, plus all billing and spend information.

Where are the advantages?

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Purchase and Ship

Import a master order list into your system that includes all of the items required of a given vendor, and include in this document a schedule and distribution to insure the right number of items are sent and the correct cost allocated to each store. Have your vendors update status on shipment in the system, and then invoice through the system as well to keep all of the cost information in one place.

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Receive and Install

Dispatch your installation contractors with a multi work order, which allows for a single work order template to go out for multiple stores.  Each of these work orders can be tied to their counterpart purchase order, so the contractor has insight into the status of the delivery of the goods and a checklist of items to be installed at that specific site. You can even attach a planogram, photos, or drawings to the work order as reference. Then, have your contractors complete receivers for the goods that arrived and thus alert you to any exceptions that didn’t show up.

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Confirm Satisfactory Completion

A robust work order system will allow your installation contractor to take and upload photos of the completed installation, and attach them to the work order as proof of completion.  Additionally, you could have a set coordinator or store manager sign off on or rate the install.

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Report

Use ad-hoc and analytic reporting to examine cost, vendor performance, and to track exceptions and trends.  In a perfect world, your system will allow you to report spend and performance on a project level (whole rollout), at the store level, at a vendor level, or isolated to just the purchasing or installation side.  This information can be drilled down to a granular level and be used to improve on future rollouts.

In summary, rollouts can be small and simple, but more often are large and complex and exceed being manageable by spreadsheet and email. A good store ops and work order system that automates the repetitive and lets the rollout team manage by exception can greatly increase efficiency and reduce mistakes.

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