Real-Time Retail and Actually Doing Something About the Weather
The old saying “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it,” is particularly apropos this week as states from Georgia to Maine deal with ice storms, snowstorms, and blizzards. But with a real-time execution system, retailers from headquarters to stores can respond nimbly to weather and its impact on demand — no matter where they are located in the world.
As we’ve written in several blog posts, weather has an undeniable impact on retailers, from supply chain to marketing to store operations. And while retailers in some cases have their hands tied during extreme weather — for example, if a city “shuts down” its transportation systems, stores can’t do much about the negative impact on customer traffic and employees’ ability to come to work — retailers can nevertheless respond in real time to weather to increase sales and profitability. Here are just a few examples:
- Snow happens, and some employees call out of their scheduled shifts. If store managers could view associate rosters and efficiently communicate with them to fill the shift from a mobile device, they can spend more time on the sales floor helping customers instead of having to disappear into a back office. More time on the sales floor drives increased revenue at the same amount of labor spend.
- Reflexis has a department store retailer customer with certain stores located near beach resorts whose stores see an increase in customer traffic when it rains. By using a real-time system the company can provide stores with localized alerts on areas with predicted rain that week. Impacted stores can plan a day or so ahead of time, offer additional shifts to a few associates on a first-come, first-serve basis. Sales floor coverage is better aligned to customer traffic in the aisles. Customer service is improved. Sales go up. Associates who are paid bonus commissions are happy because their paychecks are bigger. Everyone benefits.
- A similar scenario to the one above is when a storm passes, roads are cleared, and traffic increases because customers can finally make it into stores. Store managers can receive alerts on which products to merchandise and promote based on previous sales patterns. Sales go up. Supply chains can divert high demand products to locations where they are most needed and use inventory from one channel to serve customers in another. A lot of people in my town need roof rakes. A lot of stores are out of stock and tell me they will be for two more weeks.
Some of the above scenarios may seem obvious. After all, a competent store manager will “Do the Right Thing” in response to weather. But employee turnover is typically 50-100 percent in retail. Not everyone on the sales floor is experienced. That’s why having a real-time retail system that provides alerts and what to do based on a retailer’s own best practices is critical to providing a high quality shopping experience.