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Using a data-driven approach for thriving retail facilities

Data is one of the modern world’s most valuable currencies. It plays a critical role in any successful facilities management strategy, especially in retail. Used well, it has the power to transform facilities for the benefit of people, profit, and the planet.

Following Macro's Patricia Soria , Operations Director, and Kathryn Proudlock, Associate Director, share their expertise on how they use a data-driven approach to create thriving facilities for our retail clients.

How important is data in retail facilities management?

Both: Very!

Kathryn: Without data to inform us, it’d be a little like getting into a car without knowing where you are going and not being able to read a map, yet still expecting to arrive at the correct destination. Sure, you may get there eventually, but it won’t be the most efficient, cost-effective, or sustainable way. Well interpreted and actioned data will get you to your destination faster, more economically and can help you manage any roadblocks you encounter. Without proper data or understanding how to turn it into meaningful action, it’s unlikely you’d achieve your goals at all.

Patricia: Data is only as powerful as the action taken with it. Macro’s systems and processes are data-rich, making sure we’re continually heading in the right direction from day one. If you combine this with the amazing wealth of skills in our team, it strengthens our progress towards achieving and surpassing our clients’ expectations.

How regularly do you recommend monitoring data from retail sites?

Patricia: The data from our client’s sites is managed daily, with all activities fed into our CAFM system. This data is then reviewed monthly, quarterly, annually and year-on-year, with two different kinds of data review: procurement and technical.

The procurement data review looks at; how vendors are performing, SLA and KPI performance, spend, benchmarking, and any failures. This ensures we can understand any supply chain performance issues and create action plans with vendors for improvement.

The technical data review looks at; asset performance, service specifications, OPEX and CAPEX. We use this to assess what can be done to create efficiencies and cost reductions whilst enhancing performance and adhering to the client scope and in-country legislation.

We find the two data reviews extremely impactful in ensuring we get the best out of our clients’ facilities for them.

What kinds of data are most valuable for retail clients to listen to?

Kathryn: Great question, not all data is created equal. For retail, I prioritise the data that has the potential to disrupt trading. The primary focus for retailers with brick-and-mortar shops is to keep their stores in good condition. This will maintain brand reputation, create great shopping experiences, support their sales teams to do their best work without disruption and maximise on sales. It’d be the same for any online only brands and their distribution warehouses.

Any disruption to retail operations costs money and has the potential to push the customer to make their sale elsewhere. Our data-driven strategies aim to eliminate any unnecessary downtime.

What challenges have you noticed in using a data-driven approach with retail clients?

Patricia: Getting quality data from the Store Teams and into our CAFM systems can sometimes be a challenge. These teams are busy and have a lot of pressing responsibilities. Macro have supported our client’s store teams by creating simplified, easily understood dashboards. It makes the process quick and easy for them, even on the busiest of days. And it gives us consistent, quality, standardised data to monitor their facilities. It’s a win-win, and such a fundamental step in reinforcing a collaborative, long-lasting partnership.

How have you created positive change using a data-driven approach?

Kathryn: Our teams have made a tremendous amount of positive change for our clients, using the data we gather to identify problems and develop the best possible corrective action. We use the data to understand how any breakdown can impact the customer’s journey from the moment they step in the store.

One such example is working with a high-level retail client. Their store set-up meant the sales floor on third floor was only accessible by one ‘up’ escalator. If this failed, the lack of ability for customers to move through the store lost sales estimating a minimum of £75,000 per day.

As the escalator could not be replaced inside a busy trading store, we created a programme of preventative action and proactive measures, minimising downtime. This included upgrades on smaller components and maintaining the escalator so the direction could be reversed as needed. We also proactively created an on-site store of spare parts. This had an initial cost of £15,000, however gave an instant ROI as it reduced downtime from a maximum of five days, down to just one.

We also supported our client in creating alternative routes for customers to make purchases. Such as transforming the spare staircase to be more customer-focused and integrated into the customer journey, which it previously had not been before. Overall, this programme of data-led action has had a hugely positive impact on the store’s profits and the client’s brand reputation.

What are some of the ways data can inform cost-efficiencies?

Patricia: In the current economic climate cost-efficiencies are one of our client’s biggest objectives. Using our data, we’re able to get a granular understanding of their facilities and make incremental small changes across the account. Cumulatively, these can have a huge impact on creating cost-efficiencies, as well as any larger scale initiatives we implement.

We recently completed an exercise with one of our retailers in view to reduce their cleaning costs across their stores in 23 countries. Using footfall data, financial performance data and their size information, we were able to make them savings of over $1 million.

Do you think data can be used predictively?

Kathryn: Definitely. If anything, that is where it can be most powerful. We have a team of fantastic business analysts who review seasonal trends and asset life cycle replacement recommendations based on store type and location. Retail by its nature is very reactive, but by using data in this way we can be one step ahead and preventatively reduce the downtime of a store and proactively seek more cost-efficient or sustainable alternatives.

A great example of this is for one client we’re already making HVAC back-up plans for the summer. We know from previous data the HVAC systems in certain stores struggle with temperatures over 35°C so we’re taking action now to mitigate risk.

Can facilities management data be used to influence wider decision making in retail?

Kathryn: Certainly! The reports we produce give tremendous amounts of insight which we can share with the client and their stakeholders. Such as, we can demonstrate where we are seeing higher spends than country averages and show where stores are thriving, and lessons can be learnt to reflect across other sites.

Patricia: We believe in being generous with the data we gather about a clients’ sites. It benefits different stakeholders if insights are shared for further reaching ripples of positive change. Our teams regularly feed our learnings back to a client’s construction and refit teams to support future builds. We have seen many clients benefit from these by guiding decisions for improved sustainability, costs, and productivity.

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