How Investing in Your Front-Line Employees Improves Omnichannel Retail Performance
For retail, the past 12 months have been the most unpredictable in recent memory. Retailers face a mixed set of customer drivers, such as February retail sales dropping by 3.4 percent from January because of winter storms. Additionally, as vaccination becomes more widespread and government stimulus checks boost consumer spending, customer traffic and the demand for an in-store experience is certain to fluctuate. And as people still move towards omnichannel services, chains will need to continue optimizing their curbside pickup and BOPIS fulfillment processes.
At this point, we’re still learning a great deal about the new, omnichannel-friendly customer, a customer that changes depending on the retail vertical. A customer who uses curbside pickup at a grocery store may not be as willing to do so at an apparel store. Additionally, some consumers may continue to buy online even as the pandemic recedes, and only occasionally visit a store. They may also visit the store but only wish to view products via in-store, self-service kiosks. These shifting customer behaviors make catering to today’s shoppers an even more complicated endeavor.
Omnichannel-driven processes inevitably add to your front-line employees’ workload, making it more difficult to keep them from becoming overloaded with tasks. Front-line employees are already busy keeping stores clean and safe, refilling hand sanitizer stations and ensuring social distancing signage is up. They’re busy stocking shelves and finding safe, socially-distant ways to assist today’s customers.
This means that investing in front-line employees is a critical part of any omnichannel strategy. Technology innovations such as real-time store operations and workforce management solutions can do just that, providing front-line employees with the assistance they need to better manage their heavy workloads.
These robust solutions provide many benefits to front-line employees, such as:
1. Prioritized and Streamlined Task Management
Real-time task management solutions have the built-in intelligence to create a prioritized, streamlined list of tasks to each front-line employee, ensuring that they’re in the right place at the right time, working on the right tasks. These solutions gather information from corporate, the store, third-party systems, and IoT devices, to provide a 360-degree, real-time view of all work that needs to be completed in your stores.
Using these solutions, front-line employees can receive notifications when curbside pickup orders need to be fulfilled, when shelves need to be restocked, and when hand sanitizer stations need to be refilled. This visibility not only ensures that regular tasks and omnichannel tasks are completed correctly and on-time, but reduces stress across your front-line employees by giving them a tool to direct their work.
2. Instant Communication
Real-time communication solutions provide an easy and secure way to send messages across your organization, eliminating the need for disparate third-party tools. Front-line employees are able to immediately send messages to their managers if they need clarification on a new omnichannel process, such as curbside pickup or ship-from-store orders. And with the ability to enable peer-to-peer or groups chats, front-line employees can ask each other questions and collaborate if they need assistance on any new tasks.
3. Simple Schedule Modification
Employee self-service solutions give front-line employees the ability to easily manage their schedules on their own terms. At their fingertips, front-line employees are able to check their schedules, adjust their availability and work preferences, request PTO or sick-time leave, and advertise and request shifts. This gives them the ability to be more proactive about their schedules, creating the schedules that work for them while still giving store managers control over final scheduling decisions.
How does this improve management of omnichannel-related tasks? If front-line employees have schedules that work better for them, they’ll be more productive and engaged during their shifts, completing more tasks on-time and boosting overall performance. When you have to train front-line employees on new omnichannel processes, working with employees who are attentive and focused because they’re happy with their schedules ensures that curbside pickup orders and online returns are completed quickly and effectively.
The retail omnichannel future is far from set and the demands on the workforce are considerable. However, intelligent solutions are a great way to empower your associates to thrive in this post-pandemic future.
For more information on how you can improve the execution of omnichannel initiatives at your stores, check out our latest white paper, “Ensuring Omnichannel Excellence in a Post-Pandemic World.”