Numbers of workers in the retail sector are increasing faster than at any time in the previous decade according to the latest trade survey from the CBI. The upturn, driven by the feel-good factors of Britain’s’ sporting successes, the royal birth and the great weather we have had in the UK this summer is a good indication that the UK Economy is heading in the right direction. The figures indicate that car dealerships, clothing retailers and grocers are benefitting most from the upturn; however with 22pc of retailers reporting a drop in sales – there is still a way to go.
With confidence gradually returning, and the influx of new employees in the retail sector, how can retailers remain competitive and deliver the customer service necessary to meet growing demand?
Great training is essential; however, being able to manage an agile, well-trained workforce is about more than training. When the workforce ceases to be seen as an expense or commodity, and becomes a flexible, agile asset it will drive revenue and a competitive advantage.
Retailers that view their workforce as a flexible asset will have a group of skilled associates with the tools they need to be consistently productive and have the ability to adapt to different tasks or roles in real-time. This agile workforce will understand and execute key tactics that have a direct impact on key operational measurements: revenue, service, quality, responsiveness, throughput, productivity.
Most retailers know that scheduling staff to demand helps to control costs and improve customer service, but when retailers utilise their best performing associates in a way that optimises their skills at times of peak demand, they increase revenue and customer satisfaction even further. By also incorporating labour analytics into their strategy, top performing retailers can transform their staff into a network of associates working together to achieve a desired result.
When workforce analytics is combined successfully with operational data, actionable information will lead to operational comparisons and adjustments. Initial tracking of metrics like absenteeism, turnover and overtime can evolve into industry-specific trends and analysis. Retail stores can see the impact in increased operating margins, profit per employee and a stronger brand reputation.
To find out more about managing an agile workforce, take a look at these two whitepapers: