When Opportunity Knocks, Will Retailers Open the Door?
Recent studies show retailers have an excellent opportunity to maximize their stores as a competitive differentiator against online-only retailers. But retailers must change fundamental store operations practices. Will retailers evolve to make the most of the advantages provided by brick-and-mortar stores?
“When opportunity knocks, get up and open the door.” I found this quote today while searching for articles on opportunities for retailers who operate physical brick-and-mortar stores. I also came across another article on CNBC about a study describing the opportunity for retailers to leverage store networks as competitive advantages over “Pure Play” online retailers. The opportunities include reduced shipping costs, better customer service, and increased sales.
Ah, but with every opportunity comes challenges. Recent blogs here and here discuss an April 2015 report from RIS News regarding omni-channel execution challenges. Top obstacles were: forecasting and scheduling labor, responding to last-minute changes, lack of mobile devices in the hands of store managers/associates, and too many siloed systems.
Intrigued by the results, Reflexis partnered with RIS News again and commissioned a brand new survey to dig deeper: why do retailers struggle to allocate and schedule labor, and how does that impact the ability to execute retail strategy? Based on the early preview of the results I just received, the labor scheduling practices used today by many retailers are not positioning themselves well for success:
- Only 17 percent of retailers use automated scheduling systems with engineered labor standards
- One third still force store managers to spend hours in the office scheduling labor using Excel!
- Almost 50 percent use accounting-driven techniques of scheduling labor as a percentage of forecasted sales
Using a fixed labor-to-sales ratio can help a retailer control one of its largest expenses, which is its labor. But retailers who schedule labor with cost control as the only focus risk, as the saying goes, “Winning the battle but losing the war.” To meet Board and Investor expectations, retailers should take a more holistic approach: scheduling labor to both control costs and increase sales.
To achieve the dual goals of controlling expenses and increasing revenue, retailers should break away from old scheduling habits. They should take advantage of new solutions that generate optimized schedules while factoring in labor standards, employee skills, labor laws, and customer service needs.
Too many siloed systems, difficulty in responding to real-time customer demand, sub-optimal labor scheduling practices, and manual tools … it seems to me retailers need a comprehensive solution, one that:
- Allows store managers/associates to interact with and update multiple store-facing systems ─ even ones not inherently mobility-enabled ─ from a single dashboard
- Drives best-practice response action to real-time alerts and customer demand
- Accurately schedules labor to complete all work in stores: daily, customer facing, and omni-channel
- Makes use of the solution on mobile devices to ensure customers have a consistent brand experience across all stores
The solution is available today: Reflexis provides a platform of workforce management and real-time store execution solutions. Leading retailers already use Reflexis solutions to increase productivity, improve the customer experience, and increase sales. Your company can too.
And with that, I give you this quote: “The greatest success stories were created by people who recognized a problem and turned it into an opportunity.”
So how about it retailers? Are you going to open the door when opportunity knocks? Or are you going to keep doing the same thing you’ve been doing the past two decades and hope for the best. The clock is ticking.