Experience is everything in retail right now. Online shopping offers the ultimate in convenience, meaning brands are using their bricks and mortar stores to provide a spectacular, immersive experience.
Some retailers have taken this to the extreme, such as Korean eyewear brand Gentle Monster, which created a multi-sensory martial arts scene in its London store; and the Museum of Ice Cream in New York, with its swimming pools of sprinkles.
Shopping has never been so exciting. But retailers know they have to do more than just lure customers in with gimmicks. They need to get the people visiting their stores fully engaged with their brand. The best in-store experiences help develop a brand’s identity and build loyalty, so customers are not swayed by the competition.
That is why the retail store is becoming both a showroom and somewhere to engage in activities related to a brand. IKEA is a prime example. It has made some bold sustainability commitments in response to criticism that it is contributing to throwaway consumerism; and its new store in Greenwich reflects those commitments.
As well as the traditional display rooms and warehouse full of stuff, there are classes in repairing and upcycling old furniture, growing food, and making homes more sustainable. IKEA has made the store a place to be as well as shop, including green spaces, a roof garden, flexible work areas, and a community space.
A retailer’s most valuable asset
Employees are at the heart of in-store experiences. They are the ones interacting with customers, getting them excited about the products; they represent the brand and everything it stands for.
As well as genuine enthusiasm for the products, they need an in-depth understanding of what they are selling. Shoppers who do their research online before visiting a store expect retail assistants to know more than just the specifications. John Lewis, for one, is training shop floor staff as experts in particular categories, so customers can book consultations with them in advance.
That makes it more important than ever for retailers to hold on to staff. The longer staff remain with a company, the more knowledgeable they become. They get closer to the brand and the customer experience improves.
Tim Denison, Director of Retail Intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance, said: “Recruiting passionate staff, who have intimate product knowledge and take an active interest in their customers can drive engagement, and bring back that loving feeling between stores and their shoppers.”
The importance of scheduling
That loving feeling is easily lost if customers have to queue for the novelty ice cream pop-up, or staff are too busy to engage. That is why it is so important to get the rota right when creating an in-store experience.
Rotageek’s interactive platform provides future demand forecasts, which determine the staffing levels set by the schedules. That means a store will have the right number of staff, so customers will not have to queue, or spend time looking for expert advice, and can enjoy a seamless experience of the brand.
Core staff will be used more effectively so managers will not have to fill gaps with expensive agency staff, who have no connection to the brand. Staff will have manageable workloads, so will be better at serving customers, and will be happier in their work. Employee retention will increase, meaning retailers will hold on to trained employees that understand the products and the brand.
Our technology enables store managers to perfect the team mix. Perhaps a department store needs a buggy expert on weekend mornings, and more staff with electronics expertise in the afternoons. With Rotageek, you can design your schedule based on an employee’s tasks, or the skills that they have.
Employees are able to request fixed shifts, or express a preference about when they want to work, or the type of shifts they like. That means they can ensure their work fits in with their lives.
Our matching algorithms then create an optimal schedule that balances expected demand, skills, roles, teams, staff preference, budgets, contract hours, working time limits, and fairness.
Once the schedule is produced and published, and real life necessitates change, staff can swap and pick up shifts on the platform directly (subject to manager approval), with any changes updated immediately on the rota.
Looking after your employees
As retailers demand more and more of their in-store staff, they must work harder to ensure they are well looked-after. They can do that by offering staff genuine flexible working with control over their schedules, and a good work/life balance.
While kung fu aliens and ice cream sprinkles will get customers talking, smart scheduling will ensure you have the right number of staff in-store; they are happy to be there; and ready to create a truly incredible in-store experience for your customers.