Handling Holiday Hiring to Increase Customer Loyalty
The holiday season is upon us. This is an important time for Retailers because it brings in a significant portion of their sales, and is also an opportunity for them to cement loyalty with existing customers and win new ones.
During the holidays and other peak selling seasons, many first-time buyers have a chance to become enchanted with brick-and-mortar retailers they haven’t yet visited. According to research by Custora (a predictive analytics firm), retailers typically see a 16% increase in first-time shoppers during the holidays. With the right strategy, retailers have a chance to charm these new customers with an in-store atmosphere of holiday cheer and also woo them with a premium online ordering experience.
Maria Haggerty, at Total Retail, draws specific attention to the latter by stressing how important it is for retailers to have a solid fulfillment strategy going into the holiday season. Her four tips include:
- Forecasting which days will have peak sales
- Aligning labor spend with peak day analysis
- Scaling fulfillment operations
- Implementing new strategies to impress customers
The common theme between these tips is that it is necessary to understand the ebb and flow of the holiday season and calibrate your store operations to provide the best possible customer service. This means matching associate labor schedules to in-store customer traffic as well as to online orders that need to be fulfilled in-store.
The result is that retailers may have to invest in hiring holiday workers if they want to provide a shopping and fulfillment experience that can convert first-time shoppers into loyal customers. This, as the Wall Street Journal points out, is leading to intense competition for seasonal workers. As online shopping has grown, the employment need of big retailers has surged. In the past six years, the number of seasonal employees hired during the holiday season increased by more than 40% from 600,0001 in 2009 to more than 840,0002 in 2015.
As the US unemployment rate has gone down, the cost of hiring holiday workers has increased as firms are in competition to have even the slightest edge during the holiday season. This creates the perfect blizzard for retailers: the demand for workers is increasing at the same time the supply of workers is shrinking and labor budgets are largely stagnant. It doesn’t help that these new employees need training to perform complex tasks such as “Buy Online, Ship from Store” and “Buy Online, Pick-Up In-Store.”
The holiday season comes with many challenges for retailers including:
- Forecasting sales and fulfillment needs
- Matching labor schedules to store traffic/fulfillment
- Scheduling full-time and part-time employees
- Training new employees
- Avoiding poor service from understaffing while preventing a financial hit from overstaffing
How can retailers respond to these challenges?
How can retailers achieve operational excellence and create an experience that will convert first-time holiday shoppers into loyal customers? By implementing technologies to streamline their workforce, manage their labor budgets, and train their staff on the go.
One solution is to implement a workforce management platform. This allows retailers to analyze previous sales data and identify peaks instead of smoothing them over. They can use that information to predict peaks during the current holiday season. Stores can also look at store associates, their skills, availability, preferences, etc. and generate a schedule that puts the right employees in the right role at the right time. All of this happens within the overall store budget, while meeting the retailer’s customer service goals.
Retailers can also implement a real-time store execution solution that provides on-the-go coaching on best practices. Associates don’t have to spend time training off the sales-floor, which can sometimes take weeks. Instead, the solution provides associates with actionable information on mobile devices in real time. If an associate has to pick and pack an online order, they automatically receive step-by-step instructions.
Labor scheduling and real-time store execution solutions and others such as task management and retail store auditing allow retailers to execute flawlessly on their holiday strategy. They create an experience that can convert first-time shoppers into loyal customers. That is the best holiday gift a retailer could ask for!
Reflexis Workforce Manager™, Reflexis StorePulse®, and other Reflexis solutions provide retailers the capability to execute across all stores as intended by corporate. Workforce Manager puts the most powerful scheduling software into the hands of corporate planners and store managers so that they can match store labor to corporate tasks and customer traffic. StorePulse gives the power of on-the-go actionable information to store associates so that they can respond to fulfillment and other tasks in real time using pre-defined retail best practices. If retailers want to make the best of the holiday season, Reflexis has the tools to make that happen. To learn more go to reflexisnew.wpengine.com/solutions/ and read about our retail store execution and workforce management solutions.