Retail employees have the ability to make or break the brick-and-mortar experience, and are the driving forces of whether shoppers decide to return to a store, or simply go elsewhere.
Because associates play such a pivotal role in the brick-and-mortar environment, retail executives need to provide them with the tools they need to feel empowered and motivated so they can work to their greatest potential.
In the Connected Consumer Series webinar, titled: Boosting Revenue With Smarter WFM, representatives from World Kitchen and Workplace Systems discussed how retailers can leverage workforce management (WFM) solutions in conjunction with Big Data to improve employee scheduling, decrease costs and optimize customer experiences.
“One of the key factors that is causing retailers to drastically change how they handle their businesses is that consumer behavior has changed dramatically, and a lot of that has been driven by the Internet,” said Gary Myers, VP of North American Sales at Workplace Systems. “Today’s consumer is a much more informed consumer. They have a much better understanding of what they are looking for as they walk into your store, the quality and pricing of items available, and the competition retailers face from online sales, as well.”
Empowering the workforce helps boost overall productivity, and enhances any customer engagement that happens within the store. WFM solutions offer employees enhanced visibility of their schedules, and also empower employees with the information they need to do their job effectively.
“Driving employee satisfaction levels — making sure that they are happy — is the key to driving customer experience,” Myers said. “It’s important to make sure that you are providing a system to your employees that they will see as beneficial. Just by giving employees a way to see their schedule goes a long way towards having employees that can give customers the experience they have come to expect.”
Illustrating the potential benefits of WFM solutions, Michael Chester, VP of Store Operations at World Kitchen, highlighted key challenges the company faced while managing employee schedules.
“I would always find myself looking back on what happened the prior week or month for employee schedules and not have a lot of visibility about what was going to happen in the future,” Chester said. “Like many specialty retailers at the time, our employee scheduling was hand-written on a piece of paper and posted in the backroom by a manager. It was effective in offering basic visibility to our employees, but it created various other challenges when it came to areas such as payroll.”
World Kitchen implemented Workplace Online in an effort to reduce labor costs and enhance customer engagement throughout all of its stores.
Providing more granular insights into store traffic patterns and employee performance, the WFM solution empowered World Kitchen associates to be more productive. The solution also includes exception-based reporting that alerts World Kitchen managers of situations that require immediate attention so problems can be addressed before they have a negative impact on the business.
“This exception-based reporting gave us the ability, from a performance standpoint, to react to situations before they became problems,” Chester said. “This gives you a lot of control, and gives employees a better chance to have a positive impact on the customer experience.”
Because employees can take ownership of their hours — whether it’s requesting time off or requesting to work extra hours — they feel more valued and also understand what is expected of them. The solution also gives World Kitchen managers insight into which associates are willing to work at a given time, and allows them to schedule the right associates during high-traffic periods throughout the day.
“The solution gives our associates more control over their schedule, which is important to drive engagement with the associates. We’ve seen an increase in our employee satisfaction, and many of the reasons given — such as the ability to have work/life balance and controlled schedules — are all attributed directly to the workforce management solution.”
Click here to access an on-demand version of the webinar.