Clear and concise communication is one of the key factors for success in retail. Efficient business process requires constant communication between different employees of the retail; many times situated at different locations. It is astonishing to observe that a staggering number of retailers are using WhatsApp as their preferred tool of communication. Indeed, the instant messaging application is fast and compact to use but its convenience cannot be taken for granted. Observers have noted that it can be detrimental to a host of retail operations. Here are some top disadvantages:

1. Unstructured communication:  

WhatsApp does not facilitate threaded mode of communication. Because of this, it is virtually impossible to structure the lines of communication leading to the creation of numerous side-groups, each with a particular aspect for a given project. The trouble multiplies with each group having different members. This leads to inconsistent communication. With various groups and lengthy complex threads of conversations, communication between the field personnel and the retail or, the corporate leads to miscommunication and misinformation. This haphazard flow of information can drastically affect operations management in a negative.  

2. Lack of data Analytics  

A robust retail operation thrives on data that has to be structured to assess its application to various facets. Communication on medium such as WhatsApp will render data that is unstructured. Consequently, it gets tough to run analytics on it

3. Inefficient Image management :  

It is a prevalent scenario in a retail industry where the corporate and the field managers request images of the retail stores. Sharing them on WhatsApp can be a real cumbersome process. They need to be downloaded, stored and arranged in chronology as per requirements. This is a time taking procedure. Instead, a valid retail merchandising software could be the ideal solution. It will seamlessly create visual archives of the images that can be retrieved at the click of a button. The software prevents manual labor by automatically updating and placing the pictures in the right order 

4. Inability to lay down high level overview :  

The retail corporate is only concerned with the overview and not the lengthy details. The massive amount of information on WhatsApp by various members of the group may confuse someone looking for a quick summary. Also, referencing back to any notes found within the long thread of messages becomes difficult. This gets typically frustrating when one is looking for some information with a time constraint. Hence, a comprehensive task management software is required to avoid such unnecessary issues.

5. Accountability  : 

As is evident, it becomes virtually impossible to maintain accountability on WhatsApp. Within retail, it is important for the corporate and the field workforce to regulate stores by exception and possess real-time visibility for execution. In this context, the Outmarch Cloud Platform can be customized to suit various retail requirements such as maintaining accountability for task execution and ensuring compliance.

 6Security Issues  

Malware, cyber-attacks and the ever-increasing incidences of hacking data in WhatsApp can be detrimental to the confidentiality of information for the retailer. Also, we are very well aware of data privacy issues faced by corporations that own applications such as whats app. For this purpose it is better to use a customized retail management software where you are sure the data is safe.

7. An imbalance between professional and personal life : 

The retail staff is habitual at working during odd hours. Personal messages may distract the personnel during duty hours. Conversely, it is also not proper for an employee to receive messages from the office when he is off-duty. Keeping WhatsApp strictly for personal messages and allotting the retail communication to take place on authorized software is supposedly the way forward.

8. Restricted administration control : 

Being a social messaging application, WhatsApp does not render stringent admin control features to restrict information access. The free data can be accessed by anyone. This becomes detrimental when confidential data is visible to all. For Enterprise application you need better governance by using users roles and permissions and audit trail.

9. Limited file sharing

WhatsApp has various limitations on the number of files, size of file etc that could be shared. This may not be enough for retail communication. 

10. Loss of data

Data is tied to the phone. Loss/damage of phone can potentially delete all the rich data on whatsApp. Retail software on the other hand typically stores data in the cloud that can be retrieved anytime anywhere from multiple devices like mobile phones, tablets or, PCs.

As one can see, it is pretty evident that spending time collaborating and organizing on WhatsApp is certainly not the best way forward. If anything it is harming the retailers.  It is high time retailers started considering an official platform for communication. The Outmarch retail management software can be the perfect solution in this regard