We are living difficult times for the store retail sector, an extremely high competitiveness, and an increasing proliferation of online retailers has forced store retailers to reinvent their strategies to survive and win in a complex and challenging market.
Retailers have long resigned themselves to the ubiquity of online retail and how its growth displaces physical store visits. The question is how to create an in-store experience that can improve conversion on the visits stores are getting. First things first—the physical store is still operating from a position of strength, even as foot traffic slows. There is a strong sign that many consumers still desire a physical interaction with a product.
In fact, even in those product categories where shoppers clearly prefer to research online, such as in consumer electronics and computers, household appliances, and clothing and footwear, many still like to go to a store to buy the product.
Take clothing and footwear, for example. Just 32% of customers prefer to do their research in a physical store, but 53% prefer to purchase in a physical store (PWC – Total Retail Survey 2016). The real challenge is creating a store environment in which shoppers who prefer to buy offline are converted to purchasing customers.
When we asked what would make the in-store shopping experience better, the most popular answers (40%) is to be attended by a sales associates with a deep knowledge of the product (PWC – Total Retail Survey 2016).
Taking into account this, in the intensive battle to win market share, those retailers who embrace their retail workforce as a strategic asset, while minimizing the financial impact of labor law compliance will gain a clear advantage against the online retailers.
Retailers can maximize their workforce productivity by following two principals.
Give the best tools and labor environment to your workforce
It is clear that associates have a key role in the sales process, have the right associates at the right time with the necessary skill may be critical to increase the conversion rate. On the other hands, there is no doubt, that the motivation of employees is key to achieving the best sales performance.
Those employers who can provide the best schedules, oriented to increase the productivity and customer service but respecting the employee preference, and giving them the tools and interaction that create a positive culture will experience lower turnover and higher employee morale.
Generate an optimal staff scheduling taking into account the associate’s request, store sales requirements, staff availability and compliance is a difficult juggling act. The good news is that currently there are technologies that can help us greatly
Advanced analytics, as predictive and prescriptive analytics, can provide you the necessary knowledge to convert the staff scheduling process in an easy, intuitive and agile task.
The most advanced tools provide the potential to unite these two analytics technics in order to increase sales, containing the labor cost, giving a compressive business performance visibility and making life easier for the Store managers. These tools are providing retailers with:
- Predictive analytics to forecast future customer visits and sales, in order to know when is better to schedule associates and skills required.
- Prescriptive workforce scheduling that allows Retailers to accurately schedule and distribute their labor resources with the volume of expected visits, all while ensuring compliance with the evolving legal requirements.
A motivated workforce also wants to feel themselves empowered and productive. Associates want to help customers on their shopping journeys by providing the information and services customers need to complete their path to purchase. They can’t do that if there are more customers at store floor that they can serve, and if the customer has more information at their fingertips in the e-commerce than in the store with the adequate associate. In this sense is key to have the perfect structure of the store, at all time, adjusted to the predicted customer visits.
The store as an important piece in the customer buying experience
In the new, consumer-driven omnichannel marketplace, a well-trained and well-equipped associate is a critical part of the supply chain to drive revenue, provide seamless omnichannel shopping experiences and create loyal customers.
The evolving role of the store and the demand for omnichannel shopping experiences is putting greater emphasis on the retail workforce as a driver of retail success.
Retailers who elevate their store workforces to a strategic level will gain competitive cost and service advantage while protecting themselves from the growing online retailers.
If you desire to read more articles about staff scheduling issues and how advanced analytics can help, you should register to our LinkedIn group “Performance Based Scheduling” or visit the blog section in our website.