Q&A: Optimizing Retail Resources

3 min read
Aug 29, 2023 8:15:00 AM

Optimizing operational costs while still delivering an exceptional customer experience: the ultimate goal for retail leaders. But we all know how challenging it is to find the perfect balance. One of the biggest obstacles is figuring out where to focus. 

I sat down with Rich Bongiorno, Senior Managing Director of our Customer Service Advisory practice, to discuss his observations around what top performing retailers are doing to optimize their resources. 

Q. Rich, obviously this is a tricky topic and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to optimizing resources. That said, there are common areas where retail leaders can focus their energy and attention. What do you see retailers doing to optimize operational costs and deliver an outstanding experience?

Rich: We tend to look first at technology when we think about virtual service channels, but leaders in the in-person retail environment should really be focused on how technology can help them strike that balance.

Q: What types of technology are really having an impact on resource optimization for retailers?

Rich: First up would definitely be self-service checkouts and kiosks. Making these available provides customers with the option to self-service and answer their own questions or resolve their problems quickly, easily, and efficiently. Having these available gives customers choice, which improves their perception of the experience, and it also helps optimize resources and front-line employees assigned to these aspects of the retail experience, which ultimately helps retailers optimize their labor models.

Automated inventory management systems should also be explored. These help retailers optimize their inventory and manage their inventory costs, balancing maintaining high-demand items in stock and carrying costs. While this has been utilized by big box and general merchandise superstores for years, these systems can and should also be applied to retailers with a smaller footprint, as they provide key financial performance benefits.

Q: And obviously we can’t talk technology without touching on AI. What are you seeing there in terms of optimization?

Rich: Absolutely! Some retailers are testing advanced technology capabilities such as robots for product or service delivery and generative AI to proactively address customer inquiries and provide a high-level of personalization – ultimately leading to the self-service choice plus better experience that retailers are looking for. Many of these advanced technology tools were created with optimization goals in mind, so they should certainly be explored when you’re building optimization strategies. This is a space to watch as we see whether these capabilities can provide that balance of reduced operational costs and the experience customers want.

Q: Now in addition to technological advancements, there are more standard technologies that we have to address including your website and app. While we’re focused on that retail in-person experience here, digital channels have become a big part of that, right?

Rich: Definitely. Your retail optimization,  Your strategy has to include an omnichannel view. Retail leaders need to orchestrate and deliver an omnichannel experience that includes the brand’s website and app to provide an efficient and frictionless customer experience. The pandemic accelerated the use of buy online pickup in-store and buy online curbside pickup. Both methods provide a high level of flexibility and convenience for consumers, at a low cost to brands – that ideal optimization mix. Make sure optimization strategies don’t neglect those core channels.

Q: To wrap things up, is there one piece of advice you would give to retail leaders who are currently navigating their resource optimization strategy?

Rich: Data and analytics are your friend. Make sure you are employing evaluation technology as part of your strategy and make sure you are using it. For example, if you are capturing location-based operational metrics such as door swings, customer volume across peak/non-peak hours, and average customer support time, you can integrate this data into your workforce management tools and provide location-level retailers with the tools they need to optimize their resources and improve the customer experience and financial performance. By scaling this practice of data-driven intelligence across your locations, you’ll have a solid foundation for consistent optimization across your brand.  

Thank you, Rich. 

If you’d like to dive deeper into this topic, connect with Rich or reach out to our team today..

Where to find more insights like this:
This blog post was featured in the Customer Service Advice & Insights monthly newsletter. Make sure you're signed up to get the latest customer service channel intelligence >


Meet the Expert

RichBongiorno head shot

Rich Bongiorno
Senior Managing Director
J.D. Power

Serving as a subject matter expert, Rich is responsible for delivering high impact customer experience solutions and identifying operational best practices for retail experience.
Learn more about Rich >



Get Email Notifications

No Comments Yet

Let us know what you think