Rising e-tail competition and economic pressure has led many retailers to remove operating cost with a leaner and more flexible workforce. The challenge for retailers is to maintain and improve in-store standards with a leaner workforce on the shop floor.
In Mario Draghi’s words, "Productivity growth is the only possible way to achieve prosperity”. So how can retailers reconcile driving productivity with reducing operating costs? We offer you our five favourite productivity quotes and look at how with the help of the latest mobile, cloud and analytics capabilities they can be applied on the shop floor.
1.“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort” Paul J. Meyer
The many retail systems in place- from POS to ERP, from order and inventory management to labour scheduling, and the analytics engines running alongside them - offer an abundance of data. Such information is at the core of intelligent planning and can enable smarter scheduling and prioritization of daily tasks. By providing store associates with an intelligent, data-driven to-do list, it is possible to significantly reduce idle capacity, eliminating the time that store staff may otherwise spend wondering what to do next, and importantly, channel their efforts towards the right task at the right time. For example, data shows milk sales peak between 8-10am in store A and between 6-8pm in store B. Every half an hour during the relevant period, store associates are sent an alert on their mobile devices to check on-shelf-availability for these SKUs together with guided workflows for real time corrective action. This way, store associates’ efforts are always focused on the greatest location-specific priorities, increasing productivity and efficiency.
2. “Being busy does not always mean real work… Seeming to do is not doing” Thomas A. Edison
With so much work on the shop floor, employees can spend their whole day rushing between aisles, cash desks and back office and yet be unproductive. For example, a store associate is attending a merchandising task, re-stocking shampoo on the shelf. A customer comes along and requests information about the T-shirt promotion they saw advertised online but can’t see on the shelves. The store associate then needs to go and check inventory at the back of store and then return to the waiting customer. Just as she is going back to re-stocking, another customer approaches her with a click and collect query so she needs to go to the back office and check online. Retailers can improve in-store productivity by providing store associates with a user-friendly mobile application which gives them instant access to inventory, e-commerce, click and collect information so they can immediately respond to any customer query and quickly return to the task at hand.
3. “The productivity of a work group seems to depend on how the group members see their own goals in relation to the goals of the organisation.” Ken Blanchard
With a unified communication platform, retailers can quickly and clearly communicate commercial strategies and priorities and delegate to store associates their specific responsibilities. For example, during the Christmas period, the retailer wants to ensure high sell through rate of seasonal merchandise. Store associates then prioritise the merchandising, promotion and sales of seasonal goods and report their accomplishments to the head office. This way managers have visibility over end-goals progression and store associates gain visibility over their contribution towards those goals.
4. “Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.” Peter Drucker
Workforce productivity-enhancing capabilities like automated task prioritisation, intelligent to-do lists, step-by-step guidance and real-time communication help to ensure that store associates are not just fulfilling tasks by default but are always focused on the biggest opportunities. For example, snow clearing instruments have been defined as a commercial priority for February but long-term weather forecasts for early spring suggest a bigger opportunity in promoting gardening equipment. Retailers can then quickly communicate the new priorities so store associates are not left merchandising snow shovels in the sunshine.
5. “The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity.” Thomas J. Peters
Rewarding employees’ accomplishments – whether with monetary or experiential bonuses, has been proved to increase retention, engagement and productivity. Gamification is a fun, millennial way to measure and reward performance by bringing to the workplace the sense of gratification offered by computer games. A recent survey conducted in the US has revealed that 91% of workers using game-based motivation at work have found it to improve their work experience, increasing their engagement and productivity . On the shop floor, gamification enables store associates to earn points and make their way up the leaderboard, motivating them to execute tasks to the highest standards. Retailers can then convert the points into monetary or other rewards, incentivising store associates to continuously improve their performance.
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