The festive season is fast approaching and retail stores the world over are seeing an influx of people coming through their doors to purchase essential and luxury items. This time of the year is a very busy (and lucrative) time for most retail businesses, but it also presents an increase in supply chain pressure and demand that can lead to unsatisfied customers if quality becomes an issue.Quality should most certainly not be a seasonal prerequisite for your brand.
It’s of vital importance that you have a continuous quality improvement (CQI) strategy in place to ensure you have a road map for success to ensure that you deliver, even more so when your supply chain pressure is on.
In this blog post, we look at why you need an improvement strategy, and we will also touch on the seven quality management principles and how they serve as the path to better quality for you, all year round!
Why You Need A CQI Plan For Your Retail Brand;
A CQI plan is meant to form a road map to improving your production activities, which will positively impact your production outputs. It should be designed to take your retail brand through the process of monitoring, data collection and analysis as a part of your daily activities.
So what Tools Are Commonly Used for improved quality processes?
These tools are not used in isolation of one another, and a lot of the time the tool you choose to select will be situation specific, so you may use a combination of the below mentioned tools;
1. Check Lists - This will need to be prepared ahead of time, and you should look at creating a template and update it regularly. It should be used to collect and analyse all kinds of data relating to your production procedures and operating systems.
2. Brainstorming - This enables a creative environment where ideas are shared in a large group. The key here is to ensure there is no judgment as this will hinder the creative process. The point is to uncover any hindrances to your production process, and this tool should be inclusive of all levels of employees for creative and productive inputs.
3. Benchmarking - Oftentimes benchmarking against industry standards such as ISO 9001 is used in order to compare how your quality systems are lining up accordingly. You need not only benchmark against an industry standard, but if you wanted to you may also benchmark against your competitors.
4. Root-Cause Analysis - This is a continuous improvement strategy that is often adopted to get to the root cause of a problem and seeks to permanently eliminate that problem from ever recurring again. There are a number of techniques that can be used as a part of your RCA strategy, and it will be up to your unique situation as to what tool you select.
These tools are only a few of what's in the arsenal of techniques that can be used to implement a sound improvement plan. You need not only select one tool, you can mix and match to ensure that you find what works best for you.
The 7 quality management principles integral to your CQI plan;
If you are successfully adopting a quality management system, which I shall be bold enough to say that you should be, then you will know that an improvement approach is integrated into each principle of the most popularly used Quality Management System - ISO 9001. So let’s dive into what these principles are;
QMP 1 - Customer focus; How well are you meeting and exceeding your customer’s expectations? Your brand will need to work towards sustained confidence from your customer base
QMP 2 - Leadership; The creation of unity and purpose with the engagement of employees at all levels will be crucial to how well you are able to align your strategy, quality policies, and production processes to achieve quality objectives.
QMP 3 - Engagement of people; By involving all people at all levels of your organisation you will create opportunities to effectively and efficiently achieve your quality and production objectives.
QMP 4 - Process approach; A consistent approach to your organisation’s interconnected systems and operations produces a set of production results; in understanding how your production results are achieved you are then able to optimise your systems accordingly, ultimately improving your production performance.
QMP 5 - Improvement; Continuous improvement is essential for your organisation to maintain exceptional levels of performance. An improvement focus and strategy allows you to react to changes more efficiently.
QMP 6 - Evidence-based decision making; Decision-making should always be based on evidence and data analysis, this approach is more likely to produce your desired results and outcomes.
QMP 7 - Relationship management; Successful production of your household goods can often come down to the way in which you manage your relationship with your supplier. Let it be open, communicative and collaborative. This approach has had more success when it comes to that increase in retail supply chain pressures.
These principles are the underpinning guidelines of the ISO quality management systems. When applied correctly they are able to take you towards that continuous performance improvement approach for your entire supply chain.
The Benefits of Adopting A CQI for your Retail Brand
There are a number of benefits of adopting a continuous quality improvement strategy for your retail brand, ones that should not be ignored if you are to remain a competitor in the retail marketplace.
- Reducing the number of quality errors - It will help you analyse available data, identify any areas for improvement, or any already existing production problems which will in turn reduce the number of quality errors that arise in your supply chain.
- You increase your supply chain adaptability - It will ensure that when problems are identified your supply chain knows and understands the changes it needs to make in order to optimise for supply chain efficiencies.
- Increased productivity - It will enable you to identify existing or potential problem areas within your supply chain, and once identified, you will be able to implement the solution which will increase your productivity outputs.
As the festive season has arrived and retail pressures are beginning to surmount to what seems like you will never get through it, rest on knowing that everything you have implemented up until now will work in your favour.
Your own continuous quality improvement strategy should include;
- A variety of tools and techniques; such as brainstorming and checklists
- You will also need to intimately understand the 7 quality management principles if you are to implement a successful strategy
- If you are questioning why, don’t; there are production and quality benefits as well as those much needed bottom line benefits.
If you have not implemented a continuous quality improvement strategy before enlist the above knowledge in order to implement the appropriate quality management steps needed to ensure that only quality products reach your consumer; product defects and recalls are every retailers nightmare, with over 2000 children’s toys declared unsafe in the EU in 2016, but a successful strategy will make sure that Santa pays you a visit too.
What continuous quality improvement strategies have you implemented in the past that have proved full proof especially as we enter into the festive season?