As Douglas Conant, former CEO of Campbell Soup once said: “To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace.”

One of the key challenges for the retail industry is retaining talent. While fewer employees are leaving their jobs since the recession began, retail industry turnover in the U.S. is substantially higher than the national average.

Retaining good employees significantly reduces a retail company’s costs, which in turn affects its competitiveness and profitability. One of the keys is creating a satisfying work environment—one that’s inclusive, engages employees, and capitalizes on their skills and knowledge.

Engaged Employees
Office 365 helps retailers create an inclusive environment in which employees collaborate on products and promotions, share ideas, and proactively participate in company decisions. It provides retailers with flexible, familiar communication and networking tools that allow store employees to connect and work together from virtually any device or location.

 

 

With SharePoint Online, for example, retailers can set up a central portal where employees share best practices and submit ideas. Using Lync Online, employees can easily see if specific colleagues are available, and exchange instant messages to get questions answered in real time. They can also set up online videoconferences to collaborate on upcoming products and promotions, sharing their computer screens to discuss ideas or jotting them down using a whiteboard.

By creating a satisfying work environment, retailers have a powerful tool by which to retain employees while lowering their costs. A more inclusive atmosphere also enables them to improve performance by rolling out highly-targeted offers and promotions more quickly. 

Closer Relationships
One retailer that is using Office 365 to boost collaboration is Helly Hansen. The globally recognized Scandinavian outdoor brand is using Office 365 to work together more collaboratively, and share feedback on clothing designs and visual displays across continents.

Employees can easily share information with SharePoint Online team sites or Lync Online instant messaging and videoconferencing. The added flexibility provided by Office 365 allows employees in Oslo to compare design samples with Hong Kong, and retail stores can provide headquarters feedback on visual displays via videoconference.

Says Sandy Abrahams, Helly Hansen’s IT director: “Now that we can see each other and share our desktops, we can lead more productive meetings and benefit from closer relationships.”

A Greater Sense of Ownership
Likewise, Lojas Renner, which owns and operates 173 department stores across Brazil, uses SharePoint Online to collect managers’ feedback on upcoming collections. The company initially used Google Apps, but switched to Office 365 after concluding that Microsoft’s cloud-based service offered the best set of features for its needs.

By collecting managers’ feedback, Lojas Renner is encouraging employees to take a greater role in product development cycles. “This not only empowers our employees and gives them a greater sense of ownership in our brands, but it also gives our style team valuable input from the people who interact directly with our customers,” says Leandro Balbinot, the company’s chief information officer. “This helps us provide consumers with even better products.”

A Win-Win Scenario for Retailers
Office 365 offers retailers a powerful tool with which to win both in the workplace—and the marketplace.  By using Microsoft’s cloud-based service to create an inclusive work environment, retailers will be on their way to creating a winning brand.