by Rotageek on 9 August 2021
Online booking system Appointedd’s poll indicated that 46.7% of consumers don’t think they will return to their previous level of in-store shopping, whilst Shopify’s Chief Financial Officer has predicted that online shopping will now be permanently boosted by the pandemic. Therefore, brick and mortar stores will have to work hard to woo back their customers.
So why are your customers not spending as much or as often in your stores? And what can be done about it? Read on to find out...
Every time a customer interacts with a touchpoint of your brand - such as an online customer service portal, social media channels or your in-store returns desk - they are forming a perception of your brand. In a world where reviews and word of mouth are integral to business performance, if a customer has a negative interaction at one of these touchpoints, it may impact their willingness to shop in-store.
Focusing on integrated systems with joined-up data sets that allow for better interactions is paramount to better serve your customers in this omnichannel environment.
Integrated systems are the coming together of siloed systems such as workforce management tools, HR, operations and marketing tools. By integrating back-end technologies and front-end technologies it can help to connect customers across different platforms and services such as loyalty programmes, click and collect solutions and in-store discounts.
By then adding employee scheduling systems into the mix, crucial information can be integrated seamlessly into the scheduling model, such as annual leave, sick leave and employee skill sets. This helps to populate leave forecasts, allowing you to better predict the cover required when there are seasonal fluctuations, and ensure that you have the right skill sets to manage the required tasks.
Where retailers are offering appointments, either in-store or virtually, an integrated tech ecosystem approach allows for consultations to only be appointed to the appropriately skilled people. This helps to ensure that the right people are always in the right place, with their skill set matching the customers’ challenges. By adopting this solution, you are more likely to have happier customers, a higher conversion rate and come out on top of your competition.
In situations where intelligent forecasting tools aren’t used, it can lead to overstaffing when unrequired (creating increased labour costs) or understaffing at busy times, leading to overworked and dissatisfied employees and ultimately poor customer service.
But by understanding historical customer demand, such as bookings for in-store services, seasonal trends, or pre and post lockdown shopping data, stores can more efficiently schedule future shifts.
Through mapping your labour demand to your customer demand - and through a more accurate prediction of demand through historical data - better decisions can be made around hiring and annual leave. This helps staff to focus on their responsibilities, without last-minute overtime scheduling or cancellation of shifts.
Not only can you allocate the right staff numbers, but you can also schedule to have the right person, with the right skills, in the right place, at the right time. This creates an improved shopper experience through face-to-face authentic connections which are so important in driving customer loyalty and retention.
Retailers are increasingly getting ahead of the competition by not just focusing on the in-store experience, but looking at how they can add value to the at-home experience. Those left behind will lose out on in-store and digital sales if they don’t demonstrate their ability to keep up with new technologies.
The pandemic has driven an increase in virtual retail services, where shoppers can experience 1:1 personalised services all from the comfort of their own homes. This growth of digital offerings means retailers will have to embrace technology like Appointedd, where booking systems are integrated within the website, whilst also needing to be integrated into workforce management tools as well in order to get the best results.
The rise of virtual retail services has seen companies like Marks & Spencer partner with Go Instore and Appointedd to offer video streaming for in-store beauty and furniture services for online customers. M&S are now able to offer personalised advice to those shopping at home, with customers able to book a two-way video call with an in-store product expert at a time that is convenient to them. This opens up huge potential for in-store staff to help push an online customer across the line to purchase, when they may have dropped off to shop elsewhere.
Almost 70% of shoppers want the ability to book guaranteed entry slots, and virtual shopping experiences have risen in popularity from 20% to almost 30% - Appointedd.
With these real-time calendar solutions, admin can be significantly reduced, as customers populate the calendar with their details and requirements. With sophisticated levels of automation, systems like Appointedd can also deliver confirmations and reminders, freeing up this once staff responsibility, to allow teams to instead focus more on customer service.
By also integrating these virtual retail solutions with workforce management tools, retailers can effectively allocate staff to online appointments, avoiding the risk of missed bookings and reputational damage.
Employee wellbeing still remains a hot topic, as quite rightly it is one of the most important parts of how a company operates. Employees have had a number of pressures across the last two years with the furloughing of staff, functioning on skeleton rotas and the anxieties around restructuring programmes. And with these pressures building, their wellbeing is likely to have been affected.
With the intrinsic link between keeping employees happy and driving customer satisfaction, employers need to work harder to support their employees emotional and physical wellbeing, by integrating more flexibility, championing a work/life balance and programming rotas that help to avoid burnout. Employers will reap the returns by following this model.
When shop floor staff are happier, they are more likely to deliver excellent customer service, which opens the doors to upsell or cross-sell more products. This in turn positively impacts the bottom line.
The pandemic has also cemented that employees want more from their work. They want to feel that their schedules are flexible, that they can change shifts without a backlash from management, and that they can have a work/life balance. Through automated workforce management tools, employees can achieve that required flexibility by viewing, swapping and requesting shifts whilst on the go. By having more autonomy over their schedule pattern, it leads to less burnout and more job satisfaction.
Learn how handmade cosmetics brand Lush has adopted flexible scheduling and an open feedback culture to support their employees in having a better work/life balance.
With staffing costs a major outlay for retailers - on top of inventory, real estate and marketing budgets - optimising how staff are deployed can have an enormous impact on retail sales. But by correctly allocating staff through forecasted customer demand, or implementing data-driven intelligent scheduling to avoid staff burnout, a store can dramatically improve customer experience and store performance.
Retail staff scheduling can be an arduous and complex process, where legally compliant schedules need to match customer demand that may differ by the hour, week or month. Layer on elements such as annual leave, a requirement for certain skill sets and the need to fill hard-to-recruit positions and you can see why machine learning tools may more effectively map out schedules in line with a business’s needs.
If you would like to find out more about Rotageek’s retail scheduling app capabilities for your business, get in touch with our experts - we’d love to see what smart scheduling can do for your people, your customers and your bottom line.