How to control your retail labour cost AND benefit your employees

by Rotageek on 8 November 2021

Average labour costs typically experience year on year growth in most industries. This is due to a number of contributing factors, from minimum wage increases and inflation to the impact of talent shortages. And they eat up a hefty portion of your business’s profit margin.

Controlling these costs can be tricky. But it doesn’t have to mean cutting jobs or saying goodbye to employee bonuses. In fact there are many ways you can reduce the cost of labour in ways that actually benefit your workforce.

How optimised scheduling can control the cost of labour

Automated scheduling software is proven to better match demand, increase total revenue and improve general employee wellbeing. And it can cut up to 10% of your labour cost - whilst only using 0.5% of your staffing budget. A no brainer really. 

Here we share four key areas that are immediately improved by the introduction of optimised scheduling technology.

1. Through accurate demand forecasting

The number one reason for increased labour costs is inaccurate staffing. Too few employees leads to longer queues, a lack of service, poor customer experience and a stressed out team. And too many employees simply wastes money. 

But to get the perfect balance is a difficult job. You must optimise staffing for customer highs and then save costs when it’s quieter. A job made harder when you consider the ongoing variations of footfall, seasonal events, promotions, the British weather and the unpredictable repercussions of a worldwide pandemic. 

The most common obstacle is a lack of forecasting data. Traditional scheduling methods only assign predefined shifts and aren’t flexible in line with changing customer demand. This leaves a wide error margin between allocated labour and the actual footfall in-store. 

But with automated solutions, retailers can finally put this costly issue to bed.

Rotageek’s Autoscheduler is 12% more accurate at matching shifts to consumer demand. The technology uses machine learning to generate perfectly optimised schedules with 15-minute increments using a store’s historical data and predicted trends. This means stores can staff for peaks - ensuring customer service isn’t affected - without wasting labour spend during quieter moments.

By embracing automated technology, retailers can save between 4-8% in labour costs simply by better matching to consumer demand. And in doing so they will consequently improve their customer NPS score (by up to 10%), increase footfall conversion rates and directly impact their revenue growth. 

For one leading brand, implementing Rotageek’s forecasting technology saved more than 22.5 wasted hours per store every week. The result? £1.2 million to reinvest in their business. To put it simply, automated scheduling is a necessity in a post-Covid world. 

2. By reducing the administrative workload

Archaic processes and manual administration are one of the top contributors to high labour costs. In retail, managers spend hours upon hours creating the ‘perfect’ schedule for their teams - over one full working day every week. This is an incredibly frustrating task that costs valuable time and a dip in productivity. Time that would be much better spent on the shop floor with customers and getting back to more important work.

By adopting automated solutions, retailers could reduce schedule-related admin by up to 80%. Such hours can be saved - cutting the cost of labour spend - or reinvested back into improving other important factors such as the customer experience and conversions. Investing in improved systems is a must for retailers who want to better their employee experience but also impact their profits. 

3. By removing the cost of time theft

Sadly, time theft is still a costly issue in retail. With traditional scheduling methods, employees can clock in and out whilst not being on location. Or edit their hours to increase their payroll. This not only wastes billions of pounds for the industry every year - it also harms general employee motivation for those who are loyal and committed.

Time and attendance software has long had a bad reputation for ‘controlling’ staff and being ‘untrusting’. But when combined with a workforce management solution, it can be invaluable to the business and its employees.

Geofencing technology is just one feature that has visible financial savings. Managers can see who’s on shift in real-time whilst employees are only able to clock in onsite. This immediately puts a stop to those ‘stealing time’ whilst also eliminating payroll errors, improving safety and security, and ensuring your business remains compliant.

4. With a more engaged workforce 

Retailers often focus on employee productivity rates as a measure of success. However this doesn’t ring true. A team could theoretically work hard, yet produce little results. Or opposingly, work at minimal capacity and do more. In reality, to get the best from your workforce, you must in fact focus on employee engagement.

Employees that are engaged in the business (and their role) are evidently more invested, more focused and willing to work hard. They will in turn, get jobs done quicker and to a higher standard meaning you can reach the same results without increasing their hours, workload and the cost of labour. 

Improving your employee engagement isn’t a simple tick box; in fact there are a number of key drivers to consider from learning opportunities to relationships with co-workers (read our to employee engagement drivers guide). However many factors can be positively affected through innovative workforce management software. 

Employees need to be scheduled fairly taking into consideration their personal preferences, availability and work life balance. This can be difficult to do with legacy-based systems but with automated scheduling, managers can give staff autonomy over their shifts and promote flexible working - even in a deskless environment. Learn more about how Rotageek’s automatic scheduling software boosts flexibility - and saves your labour costs.


Want to find out what automated scheduling can do for your retail business? Our team of rota experts will calculate your individual business case and show you how Rotageek’s retail workforce management software can generate a return on investment in as little as three months. Get in touch to find out more today.

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