How UK Retailers Can Do More With Less
Even though most retailers in the UK benefited from strong sales over the Christmas period, they have many hurdles ahead of them.
They must contend with the need to cut costs, as stores have to accomplish more work without an expanding labour budget. Click-and-collect and other omnichannel services contribute to the increased store workload, making store operations and labour management more complex than ever. A rise in the minimum wage also plays a role in the need to contain costs, as retailers have to spend more on labour. Uncertainty surrounding Brexit is creating worry over how to handle the potential loss of retail employees that come from other EU countries.
None of this spells doom for retail in the UK, but it is concerning for retailers who do not have a defined strategy for managing and preparing for all of these variables. With retailers already having to adapt to a retail ecosystem that now includes mobile-enabled customers and online competition, it’s difficult to see a solution to the chaos.
So what solutions are available for retailers to do more with less?
Creating the Stores of the Future
Retailers in the UK do have a way to acclimatise to these changes. With a real-time store operations platform of task management and workforce management solutions, retailers can simplify the work done at their stores and optimise their labour schedules, saving tens of millions in the process. This can make a world of difference when cutting costs, keeping retailers from having to close stores and lay off employees.
With a workforce management solution, retailers can accurately budget, forecast, and schedule their labour. Employee schedules can be more closely aligned with customer demand, improving the efficiency of the store and increasing sales. Schedules can be created in minutes instead of hours, and changes can be minimised, saving store managers hours of time that they would otherwise spend in the back office. In doing this, retailers can save millions and maximise profitability by optimising their labour for customer engagement.
With a real-time task management solution, retailers can make their stores intelligent by providing a 360-degree, prioritised view of the most important things that need to be done and how to do them. Real-time task management can evaluate corporate and regional manager tasks, plus real-time alerts from IoT systems. It analyses the task workload and prioritises it based on store capacity and how busy stores are with customers. Employees know what to do at all times, whether it is setting up a promotion, conducting a recall, or responding to surprises such as late truck deliveries, weather, and local events. This dramatically simplifies how stores manage the extra work created by emerging services such as click-and-collect and other omnichannel fulfillment tasks, providing employees with a way to quickly help customers who want to pick up their orders in the store. By creating a prioritised list for store employees to view their tasks, real-time task management solutions improve efficiency through streamlined processes and increase revenue from a lift in sales.
Retailers in the UK might feel as if they’re struggling to keep their heads above water, but there is a way to create some breathing room. With a real-time store operations platform, retailers can fully prepare for what’s to come from the need to cut costs, do more with less, and create real-time stores that thrive in the future.
I recently spend four great days at the FMI Midwinter Executive Conference talking to leaders in grocery retail about what they are seeing in their stores and in the market. They all had unique and compelling stories to tell, but everything pointed towards some specific trends.
Grocery retail continues to undergo significant changes as customers look for exciting and fresh retail experiences. While online grocery shopping is only making small gains, other trends, such as prepared foods, in-store restaurants, cooking and food demonstrations, and healthy food options continue to appeal heavily to newer generations.
Store managers and associates play an important role in all of these trends. They’re the ones that have to ensure that healthy foods and prepared meals are stocked on shelves, and that traffic from in-store restaurants and cooking demos are converted into sales. This is all in addition to the everyday tasks they have to accomplish: setting up promotions, helping customers, and ensuring the store is clean and orderly.
This is a puzzle that grocery retailers have to solve. With all of these new tasks and projects, how do you ensure that your store associates are in the right place at the right time, accomplishing the right things? The key is optimizing your labor scheduling and providing store associates with tools that simplify what they have to do in the store.
Here are 3 strategies you can use to solve your labor vs. workload puzzle:
1. Simplify Work for Store Associates
Work doesn’t just originate from a few sources anymore. It’s coming from a variety of systems and IoT devices, from new initiatives and trends impacting stores, and from new lines of business. It’s incredibly difficult for store associates to keep up with new work coming in from all these different sources, especially when it takes time to figure out what exactly even needs to be done. With a real-time task management solution, store associates can view a prioritized list of tasks that tells them exactly what needs to be accomplished at any time. Whether it’s removing expired foods that were discovered during a store audit, placing up signage for a new food promotion, or opening an additional check-out line during a busy period, real-time task management solutions ensure that store associates can focus on completing what needs to be done in the store.
2. Align Labor Scheduling with Task Workload
If labor schedules don’t account for new grocery initiatives, then store associates will have trouble finding the time to restock prepared foods or convert sales from customers that just watched a cooking demo. By using a retail work platform of task and workforce management solutions, labor budgets, forecasts, and schedules can account for all tasks that need to be completed in the store. This platform also enables you to account for associate roles when creating schedules, so every department—deli, seafood, prepared foods—is appropriately staffed to maximize customer service.
3. Enable Communication from Anywhere
Every second is important when there’s so much that needs to be accomplished in stores. When store associates have to track down their managers for approvals or clarifications on a task, it takes both the associate and manager away from other priorities. With a retail work platform that offers the ability to communicate on mobile devices, store associates can simply send messages and immediately communicate with store managers, district managers, and other staff as needed. This can save millions in labor costs, dramatically cutting down on the time it takes to accomplish critical tasks.
With the Reflexis ONE platform of mobile-first solutions for real-time store operations and workforce management, you can put these strategies into action, optimizing your labor spend and simplifying your store execution.
To learn more about how the Reflexis ONE platform streamlines work in stores, contact me—Grady Barnard, National Account Manager – Retail Grocery, at Grady.Barnard@reflexisinc.com–or read our white paper on how grocery retailers can excel in today’s retail ecosystem, “Retail Operations Strategies to Win Repeat Customers.”