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Retail Store Execution: An Empirical Study

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This study will help retailer identify action steps that are likely to increase sales and customer satisfaction and demonstrate the methodology using proprietary data from a large retailer with over 500 stores. Interestingly, for many years, retailers have been administering surveys to their customers to measure both their overall level of satisfaction and their opinion of various details of their store experience. Many of the detailed questions relate to store execution. For example, ‘Did you find what you were looking for?’ is a commonly asked question directly related to the missing inventory issue noted above. It is thus natural to consider using this data to better understand issues related to store execution, including what factors influence the quality of execution and what is the impact of execution on output variables of interest to the retailer, such as sales and overall customer satisfaction. This paper reports an effort to do this using proprietary data obtained from a large retail chain with over 500 stores. The data is tracked monthly at the store level for a 17 month period and is comprised of

1) Financial store performance data, including sales, number of transactions and number of units sold,

2) results of ongoing customer satisfaction survey

Which use a variety of questions to measure for a particular store visit a customer’s overall satisfaction as well as their perception of various aspects of their experience that may have influenced their overall satisfaction? They analyzed this data to discern of

1) Sales

2) Overall customer satisfaction and

3) The percentage of customers who answered ‘yes’ to the question ‘Did you find everything you were looking for?

Rating of employee knowledge; overall customer satisfaction is primarily driven by customer perceived visual merchandise, payroll level, customer rating of employee knowledge and check-out efficiency; and sales is primarily driven by actual in-stock, overall satisfaction and payroll level.

Retailer Strategy and Modernization

Retailers’ G/S strategy refers to the number and variety of product categories a retailer chooses to offer to its customers and is also known as the width of assortment decision. It differs from decisions concerning the depth of retail assortment, which refers to the number of individual single items offered within each category. The G/S decision is an important strategic component of a retail concept and helps position a retail store within consumers’ mental space of retail alternatives. Generalist retailers offer a diversified assortment of different product categories. Their outlets serve as one-stop shops and grant corresponding savings to shoppers in terms of time and effort. This is especially important for the so called ―basket shoppers‖ who seek to purchase items from multiple product categories. Gagliano, Hathcote227 States those specialist retailers generally offer a uniquely positioned retail brand within a well-defined specific product category ―space‖ backed by selected items, retail service, and professional information they further state that the higher sales margins of specialty retailers ―presumably arise from providing merchandise that is new and different, and from offering a more pleasant shopping environment‖. These differences between generalists and specialists imply that each retail format is served best by a basket of different internal organizational skills and operational know-how. In particular, this study proposes that the two differ in terms of the degree of their operational flexibility and diversity, their coordinative skills, and the extent of internal decentralization of decision making. Since generalists offer several unrelated product categories, they can contract or expand different product lines while continuing to operate their basic retail concepts. Specialist retailers who depend on specific product lines may endanger their overall retail concept whenever their specific product lines cannot survive profitably. This implies that generalist retailing embodies a lower risk strategy in terms of strategic survival than specialist retailing. Kinsey and Senauer228 brought out the fact that to maintain their product category diversity, generalist retailers must smoothly and efficiently manage and coordinate multiple supply channels, and have strong logistics and marketing capabilities to support this Smith and Agrawal229 discussed that specialists carrying only one or a few product categories need to manage fewer and simpler supply channels and channel flows and do not need such extensive coordinative skills.

Gates and Egelhoff 230 stresses on the fact that Organizational research has shown that increasing the complexity of an organization leads to decentralization of the decision making within it generalist retailing, which involves the management of multiple product categories, can be expected to be more complex than specialist retailing of a similar size and with similar global spread. Individual managers in generalist retailing organizations must make decisions pertaining to many different product lines and consider their potential interactions. Therefore, they need to be self-reliant and capable of independent decision making, which demands decentralization of decision making within the organization. Sully De Luque231 opines that the aforementioned differences in the organizational cultures and skills requiring retail generalists versus specialists imply that if national cultural values affect organizational cultures and skills, then different national cultures may also influence the selection of different retail format strategies. Uncertainty avoidance is a major national cultural value. This dimension describes the extent to which ambiguous situations are perceived as threatening to individuals. Societies characterized by high uncertainty avoidance feel threatened by uncertain, ambiguous, and unstructured situations. In the 21st century, many large-scale retailers operate outside their countries of origin. The Uppsala school of incremental learning suggests that, as the international experience of firm‘s increases, they gain more information and confidence and one can expect that their organizational culture and practices may change. This may influence the effect of the cultural values of a retailer’s country of origin on retail strategy.

Findings & Suggestions


Ø Regular follow-ups for half an hour can be done by maintaining the registers near the billing counters every day to help build a good relationship and increase customer interaction.

Ø There should be Black Card expiry- renewal intimation given to every customer holding a black card a month before the expiry, so as to help customer use their remaining coupons and vouchers as they have a validity of a year.

Ø There should be instant feedback machines/devices kept near the billing counter, where customers can fill the form randomly, which can help Crossword to have a track on customers needs and wants.

Ø Crossword can come with a chip based card where all black card coupons and vouchers are kept in the card instead of giving it in a separate booklet.


Ø The research does give a general idea of how the operations at crossword takes place and how customers perceive the services at crossword but it is very dynamic and perceptions change

Ø This study is limited to only single outlet the Crossword store of kemps corner

Ø The survey was done with small size of population, hence cannot be considered for the entire population in general.

Ø The information obtained from the customers based on the questionnaire was assumed to be factual

Ø There was a major time limitation of 2 months to conduct this entire research

Ø The data obtained in some cases may be biased

Learning outcomes

Ø Crossword does not only promote the reading habit for customer but truly believes in it and hence creates a learning environment

Ø They motivate employees to read and learn more. Also training is conducted on huge scale for employees across the system at all levels.

Ø To attend the customers they always try to have maximum staff available to give a positive experience to customers

Ø All the policies are designed in a fair manner. No hidden rules. It is to promote a win win situation for the employees and the organization.

Ø To ensure that the zest of the employee is maintained and also to make up for the loss of enjoyment, they provide a compensatory off & one extra day’s pay to all employees working on public holidays.

Ø There is no compromise when it comes to integrity. There have been instances where employees were sacked because they crossed the line of integrity. They follow the Whistle Blower policy to ensure that a crime seen is a crime reported without fear of negative consequences.

Ø An open door policy is followed in Crossword. The sitting area is open cubicles. There is 100% transparency. Everybody can see what everybody is doing. The seating is the same for everyone right from the junior staff to the senior most management. This creates high level of trust and also gives everyone a freedom to voice their opinion.

Ø It is ensured that the employees are engaged in activities which keep them motivated, happy & engaged. Such activities are namely, Birthday Celebrations, Online Lotto, Festival Celebrations, Parichay, etc.


Crossword as a company does not seem to have a bright future as they have incurred considerable amount of loss even after putting in the best practices and after being in the book industry for so many years. Sustaining in the market will be quite a challenging task as they face tough competitions from all around. However some things highlighted in this research may help crossword grow and mature with the constantly changing market. Because a business cannot survive without growth

As the retail marketplace changes shape and competition increases, the potential for improving retail productivity and cutting costs is likely to decrease. Therefore, it will become important for retailers to secure a distinctive position in the marketplace based on value, relationships or experience.

Finally, it is important to note that strategies are not strictly independent of each other; value is function of not just price, quality and service but can also be enhanced by Personalization and offering a memorable experience. In fact, building relationships with customers can by itself increase the quality of overall customer experience and thus the perceived value. But most importantly for winning in this intensely competitive marketplace, it is critical to understand the target customer’s definition of value and make an offer, which not only delights the customers but also is also difficult for competitors to replicate.

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