ISO 9001 for retail businesses?
You may not have even considered it, but long gone are the days of a manufacturing industry focused ISO 9001 standard.
These days ISO 9001 standards are designed and encouraged to be used by businesses of any shape, size, or industry.
With a lot of the standards included in ISO 9001 fitting right into the key focus areas of the retail industry, such as effective customer service and supplier management it is the perfect tool to help drive improvement and productivity within your business.
Read on to find out more information about the benefits implementing ISO 9001 for retail businesses can bring to you…
What is ISO 9001?
ISO 9001 is the internationally recognised standard that defines the requirements for a successful quality management system.
Using ISO 9001 helps businesses to demonstrate their ability to consistently supply products and/or services that meet regulatory and customer requirements.
Having an established and effective QMS reassures your customers you are dedicated to providing them with the highest quality products and/or services.
The ISO 9001 standard is based on 7 core quality management principles, these are:
- Strong customer focus: Maintaining good lines of communication with your customers and being open to their feedback makes them feel appreciated enabling you to build strong relationships and identify areas for improvement you might not otherwise have picked up on.
- Strong leadership: Ensures that the policies and procedures of your QMS are effectively implemented, communicated and resourced throughout your organisation.
- Continual improvement: Undertaking and evidencing your commitment to continually improving throughout your business is primary to achieving ISO 9001 compliance.
- Evidence based decision making: Ensures you are utilising the most accurate data possible to make important decisions within your business ensuring greater confidence and objectivity.
- Process driven approach: Adopting the Plan Do Check Act cycle will help your business manage your processes more effectively.
- Relationship management with suppliers: Helps you create and maintain strong mutually beneficial relationships with your vendors with effective communication.
- Engagement of all employees: It is important that everyone in your business has a thorough understanding of their role and how they contribute to the success of your quality management system.
How do I know if my business is an SME?
SME’s are defined in the UK as small or medium sized enterprises with fewer than 250 employees, a yearly turnover of less than 25 million pounds and gross of assets of less than 12.5 million pounds.
At the beginning of 2021 SME’s accounted for 99.9% of the UK’s business population.
Although SME’s are much smaller in size compared to larger enterprises, they play a very important role within the UK economy.
For example, they account for 3/5 of all employment in the UK and are typically entrepreneurial in their nature, helping to drive and shape innovation.
As an SME you may not feel that you need to implement ISO 9001. However, having a robust QMS can help your business to reduce your costs, increase your productivity and customer satisfaction and evidence your commitment to quality and continuous improvement.
What are the legal regulations for small retail businesses?
There are specific documents that all small retail businesses must maintain to ensure they are compliant with legal regulations, these include but are not limited to:
- Employment Contracts
- Health and Safety Policy
- Risk Assessments
- Data Protection Documents
- Intellectual Property Rights
- HR Procedures, including Disciplinaries and Grievances
- Tenancy Agreement for the Premises
- HMRC Papers
- Customer Receipts
It is also important that if you are working towards or are maintaining an ISO 9001 certification that you establish an extensive bank of documentation that pertains to your quality management system to ensure you evidence your conformity to auditors.
Another key area of legal regulation for retail businesses is Health and Safety management to avoid the occurrence of accidents and/or injuries to your employees and customers.
For managing health and safety for small businesses it is recommended that you:
- Appoint a competent member of staff with thorough experience and knowledge in recognising hazards and implementing effective control measures to help prevent, reduce, or eliminate their occurrence.
- Carry out regular risk assessments.
- Prepare and accessibly store a robust health and safety policy (if you have more than 5 employees)
- Provide basic workplace facilities, such as toilets or staff break rooms.
- Provide thorough and accessible information and training for all your employees.
- Report any accidents and illnesses that may occur.
- Purchase insurance for your business.
- Display the law poster in a clearly viewable location for all staff or provide them with an equivalent leaflet.
- Have a first aid kit and at least one appointed first aider and ensure all your employees are informed on your first aid procedure.
What are the benefits of ISO 9001 for retail businesses?
ISO 9001 standards concentrate around important areas for the success of retail-based businesses, such as a strong customer focus, providing quality customer service and effective supply chain management.
Having an ISO 9001 QMS in place helps provide you with a more thorough understanding of your business that in turn allows you to more effectively locate areas that require improvement as you are consistently monitoring the performance of your processes and procedures.
Implementing ISO 9001 for retail businesses can bring a whole variety of benefits, these include but are not limited to:
- Helping you build a more resilient and sustainable business; this is especially important for small and medium sized businesses which lack the same security as larger more established enterprises.
- Helping you build greater awareness and recognition for your brand as you establish a reputation for quality goods and or services within the retail industry.
- Engenders greater employee engagement ensuring every employee in your business knows exactly what is expected of them and how they contribute to the success of your QMS.
- Increases your customer satisfaction especially when you can evidence your commitment to meeting their requirements and providing them with the highest quality products and service.
- Enables you to consistently improve your processes to ensure that your quality management system is operating optimally increasing the overall productivity of your business and helping you to reduce costs.
- Helping you to build stronger relationships with your vendors and improve your overall supply chain management.
- Helping you to build a better sense of market awareness allowing you to understand which items you should stock and sell in your retail business and why.
- Helping you to respond quickly and effectively with corrective actions to issues that may arise within your systems, processes, operations, or products.
How does my retail business get ISO 9001 certified?
The first step is implementing a successful quality management system in your business.
You may wish to attempt this independently or find an ISO 9001 specialist consultant to help you with this process.
Picking the right ISO consultant for your business is an important decision that will ultimately influence the effectiveness of your QMS and the efficiency of the certification process.
It is important to hire an ISO 9001 consultant that has thorough experience in interpreting and implementing ISO 9001 standards in businesses similar in industry and size to your own.
For our more detailed guide on choosing the best ISO consultant for your business, click here.
If you are still in the process of finding a quality consultant, check out our Mentor Forum, home to a variety of quality consultants from across the globe designed to help you discover the best consultant to help your business achieve compliance.
When applying for certification ensure you research and evaluate several different options to find the one that is best for you.
The certification body you choose must be UKAS accredited or your ISO 9001 certification may not be recognised.
Using compliance management software to automate your ISO 9001 management system.
Automating certain procedures within your retail business can help reduce or eliminate the potential for human error and is becoming more and more common across every industry.
With cloud-based compliance management software, organising your tasks and keeping track of your customer base becomes much easier helping save you hours of time every week and allows you to offer even better customer service.
This is especially important for smaller businesses with less staff as it reduces the time, they spend on admin tasks freeing up time for them to focus on the important tasks that really matter, this is especially prevalent during busy trading periods like Christmas.
To find out more about automation and its impact on compliance, click here.
Compliance management software also provides you with a secure cloud-based and centralised location to store all your important and legal and standard related documentation preventing it from being lost or misplaced which is often unavoidable with paper.