vm toolkit, operations & organisational structure

The biggest operational void in many retailers is the one between buying and selling, head office and stores, and between “the boardroom and the stockroom!”

The VM Toolkit constitutes the means to bridge this gap, a way to ensure that the strategies and the development of head office teams is delivered as planned in every store for a consistent brand image and essentially for increased sales and profit. Great ideas and initiatives are pointless if they never make it to store, or limp into stores in a diluted and incoherent way.

VM operations and tools have the power to bridge the retail organisational structure.



The modern toolkit is continuously developing in response to trends in the modern world of retail driven by the increased dynamics of customers’ lives, an omni-channel world where assortment allocation in stores is more unpredictable, and where internationalisation requires more diverse store situations working with more different working cultures, servicing clients with distinct buying patterns, to the point where individual customers are demanding personalisation on every level.

The culture of store control is changing, from compliance to education. Decades of developing guidelines and instructions has created a checklist culture of compliance, but the new world is adapting to a mood of education where a well-trained and informed workforce has the freedom to work with their brand heads screwed on, adapting appropriately to the real world that they face every day.

The static heritage of the VM Toolkit is still an important asset to any retail business. A VM Guidelines & Principles booklet should give essential information for “when the ideal doesn’t happen” which is most of the time. The difference is in the training of such as document from a yearly dose of directive indigestion to a dynamic drip-feed designed to help store personnel deliver excellent stores in the changing world.

The monthly VM Guidelines are also still an essential document with seasonal instruction on how to work with the store space, group new assortments, manage older parts of the collection, deliver windows and focal points and ideally impart new product information and commercial objectives.

However again it is the delivery of such information that is changing where even the monthly instalment is now too slow and too static for the needs of the staff with low ongoing relevance and poor retention as a result.



The new dynamic store relationship has two objectives – to create a “Living relationship” between stores and head office, and to stimulate both in the physical store as well as in the minds of the sales assistants a “Living product!” To facilitate this more dynamic tools, packaged bitesize information, delivered through fast channels maximises information and inspiration that is relevant. Relevant is fresh and exciting for both staff and ultimately customers, and additionally gives confidence to sales personnel in their constant battle to know more and to stay ahead of the well informed customer.

The modern VM toolkit educates not only on specifications but on the living benefits, endorsements and social profile of the product. The modern VMToolkit focuses not just on visual display but on staff engagement – “Front of Visual” and “Front of Mind”

Retail is people and even modern cold tools cannot integrate stores and head office anywhere as well as people can themselves. Physical visits to stores by buyers, merchandisers, marketers, commercial and retail directors all need to be scheduled into timetables where visits are not about rules but about imparting positive information. Dynamic and informal training from top to bottom. Every store visit must be an opportunity to impart knowledge to the store team.

The visual merchandising function itself must also become proactive and form the VM Glue in any retail business. VM is uniquely placed between head office and stores, between buying and selling, between marketing and promotional delivery and should be embraced and supported as a key element in the wider integration. VM personnel are a vital mouthpiece for both successes and grievances and the development of VM Guardians in every store should become the bedrock of their new-found importance and authority.

Despite the undoubted impact of omni-channel the role of physical stores still plays an enormously important role both in defining the brand for the customer, as well as remaining as the main generator of sales.

The best practice delivery of physical stores can no longer just be seen as the responsibility of distant visual merchandising operatives but must be the integrated priority of every department working and communicating together in head office and with stores using a new, informal and ongoing retail toolkit.



Our expert workshops:
VM Operations, VM Toolkit & retail organisation workshops:

VM-Unleashed’s 1-day workshop discusses all areas in the delivery of attractive & profitable stores through best practice retail and VM operations, VM Toolkits and organisational structures and the integration between wider retail functions.

It is personalised to the audience, to the sector and to the job function and objectives of the retailer team present, however most benefit is achieved from an attendance from across retail departments and essentially buying & merchandising, visual merchandising, marketing, space planning, commercial, sales and store operations teams.

The workshop process can also include a day of client store visits and discussions leading to a review in the workshop of the client’s stores, as well as reviews and reference to competitors and current international best practice stores. The workshop itself is a combination of visual stimulation and process insights.

Every workshop is written and delivered to be as relevant and productive for each client as possible including both individual and team exercises and discussions.

The typical agenda is as below, waiting your personal additions and requirements:

    • How to make VM work
    • The appropriate VMToolkit
    • VM Guidelines booklet
    • Formal training document
    • Store Planning documents
    • VMGuidelines
      • Seasonal guidelines
      • Ongoing informal training
      • Dynamic communication
    • Rules & Regimes
      • Daily and weekly tasks
      • Best seller merchandising
      • Stock control & sales monitoring
    • Store staff structure roles & responsibilities
    • Compliance or Education?
    • Remote technologies – mobiles, tablets and cameras
    • VM structures – how technology helps
    • VM processes integrating with other disciplines
    • From “boardroom” to “stockroom” integration

Different modules can be combined to create personalised workshops.

For more information:
+44 (0)7967 609849


Our specialist services:
Staff Scheduling & Activity Analytics

“How can I know how to improve my staff planning and scheduling, their store location, movement patterns and activities to maximise customer experience, service, interaction and assisted sales?”


The use of video analytics combined with traditional traffic & POS data to understand traffic patterns by store, departments, aisles areas to allow optimised scheduling and activities of sales assistants based on customer behaviour and activity patterns and trends

    • analysis of staff number ratios to customer traffic patterns
    • analysis of staff numbers related to conversion by store area
    • analysis of staff numbers related to activity, dwell, stops and sales by store area
    • analysis of staff number and activities related to sales by area
    • analysis of service and re-stocking patterns
    • analysis of customer behaviour trends by hour, day, weekend/weekday and seasonally


    • Identify staff scheduling opportunities related to store traffic/activity patterns by hour, day and week
    • Cluster stores for staff scheduling by similar traffic/activity patterns
    • Identify correct resourcing of product department/ category related to sales and conversion potential
    • Identify optimum activities and engagement of staff with customers by department & category over time periods
    • Identify the best scheduling of service, visual merchandising operations and replenishment tasks related to traffic patterns


    • Interviews with HQ and store personnel to understand staff scheduling
    • Interviews with store personnel to understand customer activity patterns & behaviour
    • Review of existing market research and data to understand customer missions and journeys
    • Understand seasonal and promotional patterns
    • Visits to pilot stores and planning of video camera locations
    • Monitor and analyse store behaviour KPI patterns – activity, dwell, stop
    • Analysis of POS sales data across stores linked to the new customer behaviour KPIs
    • Recommendations on best staff management for efficiency & sales

For more information click the link
Staff Scheduling & Activity Analytics

+44 (0)7967 609849


Our specialist services:
VMToolkit & Operations efficiency benchmarking

“How can I improve store operations efficiency, processes and performance through the adoption of an appropriate store VMToolkit delivered in the most practical and cost-effective way?”


Assessment of the current processes, procedures, timings and tools in delivering efficient, attractive and commercially successful stores

    • assessment of the organisational structure, roles and responsibilities
    • assessment in the chain of processes from product design to store display
    • individual analysis of product design, buying & merchandising, space planning, store grading and allocation, logistics and delivery to stores, visual merchandising operations, store operations, sales & service, staff training
    • action plan priorities for adopting best practice Store VMToolkit – VMmanuals, dynamic guidelines, formal training academies, store plans, retail calendar, dynamic communication, informal store training, Event “war-chest,” store props and fixtures “war-chest,” daily, weekly rules & regimes
    • action plan priorities for organisational structures
    • assessment of assortment structure and product collection


    • Identify weaknesses and quick improvements in the organisational processes, structure timings and tools
    • Identify decisive actions to improve store sales and efficiencies
    • Identify better ways to integrate buying & merchandising with store display and vm
    • Energise VMoperations to link HQ to stores
    • Employ and improve priority elements of the VMToolkit that will return maximum ROI
    • Effect customer facing elements most important to your proposition and customer USP
    • Identify opportunities to improve your assortment through the store delivery


    • Detailed interviews with head office department heads including buying & merchandising, supply chain & logistics, space planning, marketing, store operations, vm operations and HR training
    • Analysis of operational processes, schedules and documentation
    • Detailed interviews of regional & store managers and sales personnel
    • Store visits with delivery of assortment and customer experience assessment
    • Analysis of available market research and customer focus groups
    • Analysis of store performance KPIs related to store delivery

For more information click the link
VMToolkit & Operations efficiency benchmarking

+44 (0)7967 609849


Whether you are an established player, or a new kid on the retail block, we can probably help improve your efficiency, your expertise, your store delivery and of course your sales performance and profitability.

I look forward to hearing your questions, whether large or small.

Always expert and easily accessible.

Thank you.

+44 (0)7967 609849

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