by Rotageek on 15 June 2021
Covid-19 has reshaped how businesses operate for good. But one area that has been under intense scrutiny is workforce management. From increased health and safety to demands for flexible working; it’s clear that permanent improvements are required to keep up with this ever changing environment.
Retailers in particular must re-evaluate how their current systems uphold to the new normal. With employee wellbeing, financial pressure and the increased difficulty catering to unpredictable footfall to consider, pre-pandemic scheduling platforms are no longer up to scratch.
But there is a simple solution. Automated software is 25% better at predicting these patterns, forecasting and creating the perfect labour match for multiple locations. Plus the benefits go beyond customer demand, improving everything from staff satisfaction to NPS scores, conversion in store and sales.
There has therefore never been a better time to upgrade your workforce management solution. Using the results of a prominent UK retailer, here we share five key areas that are greatly optimised by an automatic scheduling app.
Firstly, let’s examine the issue at hand in more detail. In a typical retail store, customer arrival patterns vary by week, by day and by the hour. And that’s without considering the ongoing variations to footfall and opening hours as per the repercussions of Covid-19. So, how do you staff for the customer highs (reducing queue times and improving service), and save costs when it’s quieter?
A common problem with employee scheduling apps is a lack of accurate forecasting. The system typically focuses only on assigning a set of predefined shifts to colleagues, meaning they can’t efficiently fit demand, especially if that demand changes week on week. This result either goes one of two ways; unnecessary labour costs caused by overstaffing, or poor customer service and unhappy employees.
Enter automatic scheduling solutions. Using machine learning to find the perfectly optimised schedule, this technology factors in demand, availability and work preferences, as well as business constraints, fairness rules and legal requirements to deliver a plan that works for the individual company and their people.
Let’s take a look at our high street retailer’s experience.
Below we can see the manager has had trouble creating shifts for a typical day of varied demand, resulting in a wide error margin between the labour allocated versus the actual footfall in-store.
Now let’s examine an automatic approach. Here Rotageek’s Autoscheduler has done a far better job staffing for the peaks, making sure customers are served without wasting labour spend when the store is quiet.
So how does this improve overall business performance?
In this case study, our automatic employee scheduling app matched staff to target 14% better than manual rotas. And this labour match usually results in a 4-8% reduction in labour spend for retailers. These costs can be saved, reducing overall budgets, or reinvested to improve customer experience and conversion.
This British retailer also saw a 7% improvement in their Net Promoter Score, as well as significant wins in conversion, basket size and in total revenue.
What’s more, is the time saved spent scheduling. Retail managers must attempt to create perfectly optimised rotas that cater for demand and employee preferences. This results in two common errors:
This task is as frustrating as it sounds, costing retail managers up to nine hours every week; time that could be better spent on the shop floor with customers. Therefore the only reputable solution is to automate the manual process, reducing schedule-related admin by up to 80%.
Flexibility in a deskless workplace is easier said than done. Remote working is not an option in a customer-facing environment and shifts still need to be filled in advance. Yet we must still meet the needs of employees, particularly as 73% of staff now request flexible hours.
Thankfully, an automatic workforce management app provides the perfect balance. By scheduling overlapping shift lengths to accommodate for store footfall, the solution dynamically creates varied start and end timings. This not only allows more precise labour matching but provides greater options to employees.
A normal scheduling system handles shift generation and assignment separately. So shifts are created but not filled since there aren’t employees available without violating business rules. And, when these shifts aren’t filled, the schedule isn’t really optimised.
However, an automatic scheduling app does both, combining shift generation with shift assignment, so all the important shifts and tasks are covered without violating a single scheduling rule.
We’ve covered flexibility, but employees want more, and rightfully so. They want control of their working hours, the ability to swap shifts or take annual leave without continuously chasing for approval. Scheduling platforms might put shifts in place, but an automated workforce management app takes a holistic approach, giving employees autonomy over their work/life balance. The self-service technology is cloud-based, making it accessible to all users across a variety of devices. Staff can therefore view, swap and request shifts on the go.
The bottom line? Automatic scheduling apps are the obvious solution to many operational challenges faced by retailers in today’s modern world.