Retail TouchPoints: Retailers Enrich the Customer Experience With Scheduling Optimization
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Retail TouchPoints website.
According to the most-recent workforce management (WFM) study from Retail Systems Research (RSR), two of retail’s most important business challenges directly corresponded to workforce effectiveness: meeting consumer demands for better service (cited by 58 percent of respondents) and driving sales through a more enjoyable shopping experience (58 percent).
But almost half (43 percent) also cited pressure to reduce labor costs as a percent of sales as a principal business challenge.
"This leaves retailers pulled in exactly opposite directions," the RSR report noted. "Make [the shopping experience] better, which has traditionally involved adding customer-facing associates in stores — and make it more efficient by reducing head count."
A number of retailers are controlling this bidirectional pull with advanced WFM technologies:
Guitar Center effectively gets the right music experts in front of the appropriate customers shopping at certain times of the day. Its WFM solution from Ceridian Dayforce combines historical sales analytics by department, including basket size, items per transaction and margin rates. The tool also "combines traffic patterns and employee analytics to generate department-specific demand curves," said Chris Salles, director of store labor. "If our acoustic guitar business spikes mid-afternoons on Thursdays, store management is armed with that knowledge and schedules their most talented acoustic guitar salespeople across that time period."
Store management may also schedule split shifts to supplement the day’s schedule instead additional full-day shifts.
Dollar General uses a suite of labor scheduling, task management and time and attendance solutions from Reflexis Systems.
"The technologies we leverage to improve the workforce management processes are designed to help the store manager be better prepared for the customer," said Ryan Boone, SVP and CIO. "They help us effectively prioritize work, properly staffing the stores during peak hours and reduce the time required for scheduling so managers can spend more time directly supervising employees and interacting with customers."
Current strategies taking place "center on creating real-time exception actions out of any retail system, including workforce management technologies, and integrating these conditions into real-time tasks," Mr. Boone reported. "We are also working on improvements to integrate task planners into schedules to better match the work to the skill sets of our employees."
The Container Store has used Kronos’ solution over the last few years to reduce payroll costs while increasing payroll productivity without any layoffs. Recently, its scheduling capabilities have been upgraded to provide the ability to forecast its business metrics with a high degree of accuracy to help better forecast scheduling needs.
The goal, according to Paul de Freitas, store systems and business development director, is "scheduling the most accurate number of employees needed during times we expect our customers to be shopping so the experience is the same for every shopper, no matter how busy the store is."
- Retailers Enrich The Customer Experience With Scheduling Optimization – Retail TouchPoints
- WFM 2013: The Store Employee in the Customer Age – Retail Systems Research
What should be the primary and secondary goals of any retailer looking to employ a workforce management solution? What workforce challenges may emerge as physical stores evolve within the total omnichannel environment in years ahead?