Operations Management of Supermarket Retail Shops
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Operations are a primary activity for a supermarket retail business. As such, a business that wants to be successful needs to have a leading operating model. Staff plays very important role in this model. It is necessary to put a sustained focus upon how to develop best operational staff to ensure the supermarket industry is fit to embrace the significant future developments that are expected and to excel in customer service (Sramek, Mentzer & Stank, 2008). As per Martyn (2010), operations must be viewed with the appropriate level of importance, so as to support an ambition to create a world-class operating environment, which consists of people, process, technology and organization. A good operational team staffed by good operational individuals can create a competitive advantage, keeping customers satisfied, having a company that is efficiently, economically and effectively run, and creating a band of loyal and committed employees (Foster & Jeffrey, 2008). It is worth being ambitious for the operations function and the associated staff - it will make a difference to the business
According to Willis (1998), operational management is the systematic management and control of processes that transform resources into finished products and services. The operation includes support for a significant proportion of the workforce and material assets in most organizations. Managers are involved in each step in the operations. They determine what kind of equipment, labor, tools, equipment, materials, energy and information must go into the operating system and how these materials can be the best way to go and use to meet the needs of the market (Banker and Khosla, 1995). Managers are responsible for critical activities such as quality management and monitoring, capacity planning, materials management, purchasing and planning (Goodale and et al. 2010). Without the assistance of staff, these activities cannot be successful.
Operations management is also known for production and capacity management and operations management area is a multidiscipline that focuses on operations of the organization (Lashley & Taylor, 1998). Schniederjans & Cao (2009) states that OM includes many decisions such as the scale of operations, including management's decision regarding the design, planning, and managing a number of factors that affect the operation. (Shin & Collier, 2000). Operations Manager needs to apply the ideas and technology to increase productivity and reduce costs, increase flexibility to respond quickly to changing customer needs, shorten delivery times, improve product quality, and improve customer service. These are the important areas to be taken care of for the success of a company or a branch.
There has been dramatic increase in the importance of operations management. Significant foreign competition, shorter product and service life-cycles, better-educated and quality-conscious consumers, and the capabilities of new technology have placed increasing pressures on the operations function to improve productivity while providing a broader array of high-quality products and services (Williams & Anderson, 2008). With the globalization of markets, firms are recognizing that the operations function can be used to strengthen their position in the market place. Managers in operations management play a strategic and tactical role in satisfying customer needs and making their firms strong international competitors.
Organizations should follow the competition. If an employee is away from work or not paying attention then the company will lose customers and its competitors are able to take this opportunity, the company can lose its popularity and profitability. For gaining efficiency quality is the key to success and which is an effective treatment, especially for continuous improvement (Soteriou & Chase, 1998). Excellent customer service is essential to the success of any business. Officials must be monitored at all times, if they offer a good customer service or not, so they can better perform and can excel in customer service and their work should be assessed frequently. It takes time to really excel in customer service, but this ability can be learned with proper training. Employees should leave the bad attitude, family problems and personal issues at the door. Generally, customers will not see the owner or management f the company. Instead, they see that the customer service and this is how they judge the whole business. Employees are the mirror of the company so the employees should show their best services through their good attitude.
Employees should sincerely welcome every customer with a smile, they are valuable. A participatory management and team work are major components of successful operations (Hays & Hill, 2006). Motivation, leadership and training are essential too. In addition, materials management and quality, these are two important areas. Materials management is becoming increasingly important in many organizations as the cost of purchasing materials is more than 50% of the total cost products (Shin & Collier, 2000). Quality management programs and quality products are essential to compete in today's business environment. The supermarket retail branch staff should have the qualities to win the heart of the customers by their services.
For excelling in customer service employees should consider that customers are not easy to deal with but if employees have the patience and the people skills to overcome that, it would be easier for them to excel in it (Sramek, Mentzer & Stank, 2008). Perhaps the most essential thing the employees should always remember when on a customer service job is to keep a positive attitude. For instance, if one works at a call center, the first thing the employee should expect from a call from online is a burst of angry customers (Soteriou & Chase, 1998). Although sometimes this may not be the case but it is better if one is prepare for it. To develop that pleasant and relaxed attitude, it is best to smile even if one is only on the phone. The action of smiling automatically buffers the outbursts you are going to get from your client. In the case of working in a retail business, smiling will go a long way with the customers. When the customers are greeted with a friendly face, they will start to give their interest.
The next thing the employee must remember is how to respond at a time when they come into contact with customers. For a retail customer service, employee does not follow the customers around when they come into the store (Hays & Hill, 2006). This is a common mistake made by the store customer service staff. Employees must make it possible for customers to have the freedom to explore the product without tailing behind him. They should let them walk around and check out the goods. When they are ready to ask questions, they talk to employees. Employee must comply with them if they seem to ask, is the signal for the employees can go up to them and ask how they can help them out (Sramek, Mentzer & Stank, 2008). All this will result in having good reputation in the market.
The working operations can output more than they would work alone as the organization has developed sophisticated systems and equipment that increase worker productivity (Horvathova, 2010). The company also provides education and training for their workforce to increase their knowledge and improve their skills. As a result of improvements in productivity and improved training, more outputs are produced and the standard of living increase for all. Employees should think of customers as individuals. If they think so, they realize that their business is their customers, not their products or services. Put all the attention for goods in shops, or companies offering their services, leaving the most important component: each individual customer. For good customer service, employees must go the extra mile. They should include a thank you note to the package to a customer, send a greeting card, clip articles, and write a note of congratulations when they get a promotion (Martyn, 2010). There are many ways for employees to stay in touch with customers and make them closer. An effective operations strategy can provide a competitive advantage. Managers must rethink many of the basic principles of good managers of operations who worked in the past (Schniederjans & Cao, 2009). Companies should adopt a strategy for improvement that fits the specific needs of the organization at that point. Assigning a team to perform a task may not always be the best idea. Sometimes it is better to allow an individual to work alone.
Foster & Jeffrey (2008) believe that the main purpose of Operations Management is to plan, organize, direct, and control the process of bringing together people, equipment, materials, and methods to accomplish a broad range of operational tasks outlined below in the most cost-effective manner. The manager of the branch should understand how people think and act accordingly to motivate workers by creating a harmonious workplace. Proper management of the operations function has led to success for many companies. For example, in 1994 Dell Inc. was a second-tier computer maker that managed its operations similar to others in the industry (Schniederjans & Cao, 2009). Then Dell implemented a new business model that completely changed the role of its operations function. Dell developed new and innovative ways of managing the operations function that have become one of two- day's best practices. These changes enabled Dell to provide rapid product delivery of customized products to customers at a lower cost, and thus become an industry leader. As change is the law of the nature, the operations of the supermarket retail branch should be flexible so that they can adapt the changes in the future.
For operations management to be successful, it must add value during the transformation process (Willis, 1998). The greater the value added, the more productive a business is. Activities that do not add value are considered a waste; these include certain jobs, equipment, and processes (Banker & Khosla, 1995). In addition to value added, operations must be efficient. Performing well at lowest possible cost results in greater efficiency. An important role of operations is to analyze all activities by eliminating those that do not add value, and restructure processes and jobs to achieve greater efficiency (Goodale et al. 2010). Today's business environment is more competitive than ever, and the role of operations management has become the focal point of efforts to increase competitiveness by improving value added and efficiency. This can be possible by employing new methods, new technology and by training employees.
As customers demand ever higher quality in their products and services, companies have been forced to focus on improving quality in order to remain competitive. With TQM everyone in the company is responsible for quality. TQM was practiced by some companies in the 1970s and became pervasive in the 1990s (Foster & Jeffrey, 2008). Quality is the area of the operations management which can never be ignored by companies. The importance of this movement is demonstrated by the number of companies joining the ranks of those achieving ISO 9000 certiï¬cation (Foster & Jeffrey, 2008). ISO 9000 is a set of quality standards developed for global manufacturers by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to control trade into the then emerging European Economic Community (EEC) (Foster & Jeffrey, 2008). Today many companies require their suppliers to meet these standards as a condition for obtaining contracts. To have effective operations management, the company must employ TQM.
Competition based on time is the one of the recent trends in the companies. It has many aspects like development of the new products and services and reaching the market first and meeting customer orders most quickly (Schniederjans & Cao, 2009). For example, two companies may produce the same product, but if one is able to deliver it to the customer in two days whereas the other delivers it in five days, the ï¬rst company will make the sale and win over the customers. Time-based competition requires specifically designing the operations function for speed (Schniederjans & Cao, 2009). Supermarket branch should cater to the needs of the customers more quickly in order to gain competitive advantage.
Supply Chain management plays a vital role in appropriate operations management. Willis (1998) states that supply chain management (SCM) involve managing the ï¬‚ow of materials and information from suppliers and buyers of raw materials all the way to the final customer. Its aim is to reduce the overall cost and improving the quality and the delivery of the service. Team approach is essential in supply chain management. It requires the co-operation from all the departments
such as marketing, purchasing, operations, and engineering. It will result in more satisfied customers (Banker & Khosla, 1995). It has become possible with the development of information technology (IT) tools which assist in collaborative planning and scheduling. The technologies help to combine the supply chain execution and design collaboration, which enables companies to respond better and faster to changing market needs. The companies which have achieved great success through supply chain management are Dell Computer, Wal-Mart, and Baxter Healthcare (Banker & Khosla, 1995). Today businesses must think in terms of a global marketplace in order to compete effectively. This includes the way they view their customers, competitors, and suppliers. Key issues are meeting customer needs and getting the right product to markets as diverse as the Far East, Europe, or Africa (Willis, 1998). Operations management is responsible for most of these decisions. Operations Management decides whether to tailor products to different customer needs, where to locate facilities, how to manage suppliers, and how to meet local government standards (Williams & Anderson, 2008). Also, global competition has forced companies to reach higher levels of excellence in the products and services they offer. The use of best supply chain management should be used in supermarket retail branch for excellent management of the operations.
There should be an effective, consistent and impartial way to benchmark service levels in all the supermarket retail branches, and Mystery Programmes can provide the solution. The employees should have thorough understanding of what the branch offers in order to win and retain the customers. Moreover, the employees must fully understand the position of the branch in the market and what is expected of them (Horvathova, 2010). Mystery shopping programmes support the management and development of service delivery in supermarkets, transforming an intangible asset into exactly what one promises to the customer - a vital competitive advantage in today's uncertain market (Hays & Hill, 2006) . This programme is very helpful for making improvements among the staff. It will help in identifying areas for revenue improvements, recognizing and rewarding employee and customer service initiatives Mystery shopping programmes should be developed to reflect own unique quality protocols. These systems will help to measure the staff performance. Continous monitoriting of the service improvements can be done through this programme. One can define and monitor staff in many ways. These programmes should be designed in such a way so that these can check variables like employee product knowledge, check consistently the quality check standards and uniformity, and monitor customer care and communication (Martyn, 2010). Benchmarking should also be employed in the branch in order to make the comparison among different branches. Otherwise, it is complex to identify the areas that need improvement. Employees should be rewarded on the basis of their performance and there should be incentive plans which will reward the employees when they outperform. This will be very helpful for effective operations management.
At the end, it is concluded that for the success of the retail branch operations the employees should pay full attention rather than taking their personal performance for granted. The quality of the service will decline if they don't co-operate. The employees should be checked at all times whether they are providing good customer service or not and there should be training conducted from time to time so that they can learn to excel in this skill and their work should be evaluated frequently. They should also be trained so that they can acquire new skills. There should be an effective, consistent and impartial way to benchmark service levels in all the supermarket retail branches. Today's business environment is more competitive than ever, and the role of operations management has become the focal point of efforts to increase competitiveness by improving value added and efficiency. This can be possible only by employing new methods, new technology and by training employees. By behaving strategically, the supermarkets or companies can pave their way towards effectiveness, efficiency, productivity and prosperity.
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