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CAFM Can Improve Retailer Sales Focus


01/09/16 | Sally Wotton

Paul Bullard, Business Strategy Director at FSI, Concept CAFM developers, discusses the advantages of CAFM for the Retail sector with Tomorrow's FM.

Major retailing is a precision science. Metrics of all kinds, particularly geared toward performance measuring and improvement, are critical to the fractions of percentages that make a difference to sales, market shares and profits. The efficient building services and FM functioning of the property estates, particularly outlets in which retailers operate, are a vital part of their overall selling machine. As such, they need to be optimised as much as product choice, logistics, marketing and pricing.

Multiple outlet businesses with many small sites pose a particular challenge in respect of premises maintenance as part of optimisation of the selling machine. Outlets are minimally staffed to maximise sales and don't feature employees with building management skills. Put simply, FM and related requirements represent an unnecessary distraction from selling but, nevertheless are critical if failures (of power, plumbing, HVAC, refrigeration etc) impair the optimum operation of an outlet and reduce its selling opportunity.

New CAFM frees up store staff to sell

Fortunately, through the power of IT and networking (increasingly combined with internet and wifi/ mobile communications), a centralised FM support function within retail businesses is increasingly able to oversee the operation of the estate, remotely, in a way that can minimise any distraction from selling at the outlets.

CAFM IT solutions from FSI have been on hand for over 25 years to assist with optimised running of buildings and building services. And the latest generation of systems embody a significant amount of experience specific to retailers' needs.

Compilation of asset details into a central database, recording the history of the plant and equipment in use at sites and generating planned service and maintenance schedules is evolving. There is an increasing ability to remotely monitor in greater detail the performance of building services, along with an entirely new set of devices (individual lightbulbs, for example) via the internet of things. The way is clear for proactive maintenance. Two-way communication allows intelligent control with pre-programmed courses of action eliminating the inconvenience of on-the-spot direct human intervention and decision-making:

  • How much more convenient, because of refrigerant monitoring, for a supermarket to be aware that a food freezer is close to failure and organise out-of-hours replacement; rather than deal with a flood, lost stock and consequent sales losses when catastrophic failure happens during the night.
  • Footfall monitors can measure customer flow levels that dictate the frequency with which washrooms need to be serviced.

Hands-on CAFM is not App simple

It is not possible, or desirable, to go fully remote and simply remove all involvement with the FM process from front line retail staff. Unforeseen events happen in outlets that have to be reacted to and dealt with and may involve critical issues related to compliance matters, possibly involving security and health and safety. And some of the routine processes of FM must go on around staff.

FSI has tailored its mobile app development platform specifically to ease processes for retailers in a number of ways. Apps for recording slip and trip hazards/incidents; cooked food batch monitoring, temperature recording and providing sales-window alerts; and precise legacy refrigeration unit temperature readings are among the first generation resulting from specific retailer experience.

In-store staff can access a diary and events function, which indicates when engineering and other service visits will be occurring and, when necessary, a store manager will be advised of the visitor's ID details and credentials relevant for inspection for compliance verification on arrival.

The trend is towards encouraging staff interaction with mobile apps whose interfaces and ease-of-use reflect the familiarity of the myriad of personal apps they encounter on their tablets and smart phones.

From the modern retailer's corporate perspective, a CAFM implementation needs to contribute both as a powerful strategic management data tool while also making each shop floor more appealing to customers and as a workplace for making sales.