3 Strategies for Solving Your Labor vs. Workload Puzzle
Winter storms and bomb cyclones have been battering the Northeast all winter. As snow piles on top of cars, as electricity goes out, and as temperatures dip below freezing, customers’ day-to-day lives are affected, whether it’s the need to stay warm or the need to shovel driveways. As a result, people head to stores to buy groceries, shovels, salt, flashlights, and other essentials for these storms and the cold weather that accompanies them.
All of this has a huge impact on retail. Winter storms can cause a panicked rush to grocery stores, as shoppers pick up bread, eggs, oatmeal, and other necessities. Gas stations are flooded with people trying to fill up their tanks before the storm, and other retailers have an influx of people wanting shovels and other equipment. As storms pour inches or feet of snow onto a city, winter storms also keep people indoors, reducing customer traffic. Often times, too many store associates are scheduled, leading to waste in labor spending.
How can retailers not only decrease the negative impact of winter weather, but increase the positive impact they see through the pre-storm rush?
Beating the Storm with Retail Solutions
Planning for winter weather can be a daunting feat for retailers, as fluctuations in traffic and shifting customer needs leave a great deal of room for error. But retailers can use real-time store operations solutions to better predict in-store customer traffic during the cold and the snow, and can more accurately tailor labor schedules to match customer traffic.
If there is a large snowstorm approaching and customers flood to grocery stores, then based on localized historical data during other snowstorms and extreme weather situations, extra store associates can be scheduled to compensate for the traffic increase prior to a storm. This alignment between in-store traffic and scheduled store associates helps drive increased sales through better customer service. This is also helpful for when traffic is slower during storms. When using labor forecasts to schedule for these storms, fewer store associates can be scheduled (within compliance to labor laws) to better align with decreased traffic, keeping retailers from incurring unnecessary labor costs.
Promotions and other merchandising efforts also change as the weather changes. If temperatures are especially low, retailers could benefit by promoting winter coats and ensuring they are properly merchandised. If a snowstorm is incoming, retailers could benefit from placing power outage supplies (flashlights, batteries, etc.) where they’ll easily sell. With a real-time store operations solution, store associates receive alerts on their mobile devices, ensuring products are properly displayed. This ensures that customers easily find the products they need, driving additional sales as a result.
Retailers experience massive disruption during snowstorms and other extreme weather, but this doesn’t have to make a pronounced negative impact. Real-time store operations solutions help retailers profit from winter weather, increasing sales and providing customers with the perfect brand experience.