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How an International Retail Brand is Using Snapchat for Sales Productivity


Hana Dickman

I was relaxing in a quiet room of my home trying to get some work done, when I overheard my son and husband laughing hysterically in the kitchen. Seconds later I received this silly photo on my phone.

The “fun with snapchat” part of this text sent me quickly to the kitchen, half joking and half freaking out on my Gen-X mate:

Umm … since when do you use Snapchat?! You’re not exactly their demographic, so when should I expect the midlife crisis and red Ferrari in the driveway?

He calmly explained that his company — a high-end international retail brand, where he’s the Director of Retail IT — just started using Snapchat, for something pretty cool and unexpected.

If you’re a store owner who wants your sales team to spend more time with customers and less on inventory replenishment, here’s how my husband explains what his mega-brand is doing (with only iPads and 2 free cloud apps!):

In a retail store, as items are sold, merchandise needs to be moved from the stock room to the sales floor to replace what was sold.  This process is called “replenishment.” For example, you had a sale on handbags and sold nearly half of what was on the sales floor. Now your handbag wall is half-empty and needs to be replenished from back stock.

The previous system of replenishment involved scribbling notes on paper and relaying those notes over the phone, or transcribing them into emails (especially true if your stock area was in a different location from your store), or literally running back and forth between the sales floor and the stock room.

Now that we have iPads in our stores, we’ve come up with a system that eliminates those inefficient steps and has the happy side-effect of keeping our staff on the sales floor. On every iPad, we have two apps that we now use for replenishment. One is Snapchat, which everyone not living under a rock knows about.  The other app is called IBM Connections

IBM Connections is a free app that allows members to share information and media in a secure, private cloud. In Connections, we use what are called Communities. For us, each store is a Community. People who work in the store and are involved in the replenishment process are members of their community. The Snapchat app is used primarily because it allows us to mark up and add text to photographs. There are other apps like this; we just prefer to use Snapchat.

So the process goes like this:  It’s the end of a busy day and the sales floor is decimated; every department needs replenishment. The store manager is on the sales floor with her iPad.  Her stock guy, who also has an iPad, is in the stock room.

She walks around the floor taking pictures of the items she needs replenished using Snapchat. Then, she marks up those images with the color and size information that she needs from the stock room. What she’s left with is something like this:

The store manager saves this picture and uploads it to the media gallery in her IBM Connections community. As soon as she does that, the stock guy in the back room gets an alert, either through email or on his iPad, that a new file has been uploaded to the community. He looks at the file, sees the exact style, color, and sizes that are needed, and immediately starts pulling these items from stock and sending them to the sales floor to be replenished.

No phone calls, no emails, no scribbled notes, no running back and forth.  They don’t even have to talk to each other. The entire sales floor can be replenished this way.  More efficient, more productive, and it keeps people on the sales floor with customers.

Thank you to my brilliant husband for sharing his retail productivity hack (and for basically writing this post for me!) … who knew Snapchat could be used in a business environment for something so practical?

Is your business using new technology in innovative ways? If so, contact me so that I can feature you on the blog like I did with this business owner!