Doing More with Smarter Stores: Using Intelligent WFM to Control Labor Costs
During the COVID-19 pandemic, where revenue is decreasing, priorities are shifting, and it’s difficult to predict what comes next, it’s critical to find areas where spending can be both controlled and optimized. Some expenditures are fixed and unavoidable; from rent to inventory costs, there’s little that can be done internally to mitigate spending in those areas. However, labor is one area that retailers can intelligently cut costs without negatively affecting customer service.
Of course, retailers have to hire enough employees to complete daily tasks and execute major initiatives. But it’s easy to overspend on labor. Often enough, retailers have a piecemeal understanding of customer traffic patterns, sales data, product demand, overtime pay, labor laws, and other critical information that they need to schedule store associates properly. If labor schedules don’t take all these factors into account, it can lead to wasted labor spend, as well as major tasks and initiatives going incomplete.
Controlling labor costs and reducing wasted labor spend often comes down to the technology you put in place to streamline important labor operations processes. By using AI-powered workforce management to improve labor budgeting, forecasting, and scheduling, you can optimize labor spend and make it easier to not only control costs, but also get the most out of your labor dollars.
Here are a couple ways that AI-powered workforce management can help you optimize labor spend:
1. Improve the Accuracy of Labor Forecasts and Schedules
So many different variables impact the amount of labor you need in your stores. Customer traffic, weather events, COVID-19 spread, workload calculation rules – all of these variables and more need to be taken into account in order to generate the most accurate labor forecasts. Without an in-depth understanding of how each of these variables impacts your sales and in-store workload, it’s impossible to accurately forecast how much labor you need at any given time to meet customer service needs.
Accounting for all of these variables is built into AI-powered workforce management applications, which can simulate various scenarios and design best-fit forecasting models to meet the unique needs of your business. These solutions can use machine learning to detect important patterns across groups of your stores, which can be used to drive improvements in scheduling accuracy through all stores. AI-powered workforce management can also help you understand the labor requirements of new initiatives, which can be incredibly useful during major disruptions, simulating their impact and helping determine where they will be most successful.
2. Automatically Account for Employee Preferences
COVID-19 has dramatically shifted the priorities of your employees. Many have children that they need to take care of at home. Others have parents or grandparents that need in-home care. And many are anxious about the impact of the pandemic on their own health. This has led to a massive shift in employee preferences for when they are scheduled, a shift that, when left unaddressed, can lead to numerous last-minute edits and changes to the overall store schedule.
With intelligent workforce management, you can automatically generate labor schedules that factor in employee availability, associate skillset, and other scheduling preferences that store associates may have. You can also simplify the process of scheduling across stores and departments, as well as scheduling associates for multiple roles throughout their shift. This provides store associates with more consistent hours and flexible schedules that work for them. Associates are less likely to call out, ensuring that your stores are staffed properly and you see an increase in employee engagement and efficiency during associates’ shifts.
For more insight into how you can optimize labor spend, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll set up time to chat.