GateKeeper On Duty

Now more than ever, retailers are moving toward that philosophy as they appoint gatekeepers to filter and funnel communications and workload from regional and corporate offices to the stores. If executed properly, the gatekeeping function can save time and money while improving execution at the store level. The concept is rudimentary, yet many retailers are overlooking the possibility. Others may not be using the function to its fullest potential. That's why retailers are encouraged to return to the basics. By revisiting elementary retailing elements, retailers are discovering missed opportunities.

Expected Role
Gatekeepers are responsible for filtering and funneling information to the stores in a timely, efficient manner. Specifically, the gatekeeper: 
  • Receives and reviews all information and workload that needs to be communicated, including price changes, plano grams and much more
  • Determines what should be communicated, how it should be distributed, and when the organization should be informed
  • Stays focused while working with merchants and headquarter's departments to make "smart" decisions concerning seasonal layouts, price changes, etc.
  • Creates a budget for communications and activities, and ensures the organization remains within it

Ideal Candidate
Retailers should appoint a director-level person to handle the gatekeeping function. To be effective, gatekeepers should possess several characteristics and traits, including:
  • Knowledge of the organization's strategies and priorities
  • An understanding of store operations
  • Leadership and teamwork qualities to overcome adversity
  • Strong written and verbal skills

There are numerous advantages to implementing a gatekeeper and utilizing the function effectively. For instance:
  • Communication is clearer
  • Standard of execution is heightened
  • Costs decline
  • Labor hours are used more efficiently
  • Customer satisfaction improves

Case in Point
At a large mass merchant, the gatekeeper function was instituted in conjunction with a store effectiveness program. The result was a markedly higher level of execution across the chain with a net reduction of 7 percent in store labor costs.

For more information on this topic contact Pat Fitzpatrick at Atlanta Retail Consulting Inc