Retail Outsourcing: How to …

Masters of all trades make for good retail operators.

After all, a widely cast net and a broad scope of functional facilities suit such a professional well. But it’s nevertheless important to let yourself off the hook from the expectation that you know it all.

Retail outsourcing isn’t a new idea, but its inherent wisdom as a means of reducing a company’s internal cost structure is increasingly coming to the fore. And that this development is nudging the paradigm of supply-chain management into a new arena for retailers is a good thing.

The value proposition of a company hiring an outside expert to deal with those areas beyond its core-practice preoccupations is that it’ll save them money and focus employees’ attention on the critical stuff at hand.

And that, in turn, can lead to other spinoff benefits, such as more predictable budgeting and flexible staffing.

Here’s how to get into the outsourcing game:

  1. Figure out which tasks most warrant your undivided attention, and see what’s left. These are The Outsourceables. Think about the cost of delegating, and choose the ones that are the most cost-effective and easy to transfer.
  2. Consider entire departments that could be shuffled onto someone else’s shoulders. Think: marketing, content creation and social media management; IT and web development; warehousing and fulfillment; administration; and merchandising for retrofits.
  3. Pick an outsourcing partner with whom you will feel comfortable (and by whom you won’t feel intimidated) in a long-term partnership (though you should consider the outsourcing partner an employee). Look at their past record with similar types and sizes of retail client.
  4. Establish a commitment with the partner(s) that’s clear about expectations and the nature of the relationship. Ideally, your contract will exploit the flexibility of this new relationship and establish good links from the outset with the people who will be accountable for its success.

Retail outsourcing is a plan for smart resource allocation at a time when tight, clever oversight is more key than ever.