Few industries are as dependent as retail on the performance of its employees for every element of success, ranging from store sales to profits to customer satisfaction. In addition, no industry has the challenge of effectively managing a workforce the size of a national army, in a way that delivers optimal value to the brand and meets corporate goals.
Workforce management (WFM) is the single largest retail cost component, in the range of 10-20% of revenues. Even though there are powerful tools available to help retailers control labour costs, the truth is that effective management of labour extends far beyond cost cutting.
Today, retailers have the ability to optimize labour scheduling in 15-minute increments and get real-time budget variance updates. This allows store managers to make mid-week adjustments based on sales volume instead of waiting for a report at the end of the month. But to effectively operate at this granular level while simultaneously fulfilling omni-channel responsibilities is not easy. It requires a new approach to WFM, one that necessitates creating a detailed roadmap that includes business case development, end-to-end process maps, and consolidated KPI dashboards, shifting from task management to sales conversion, and rolling out enterprise and associate mobility tools.
In early May 2012, Wipro partnered with RIS News to explore key elements of retailers' approach to WFM, including productivity, execution improvement, and top strategies for 2012. Here are some of the key findings of the joint Wipro RIS News study on mapping omni channel work force management:
- A third (33.3%) of respondents felt that their WFM solution meets existing and foreseeable future needs. Unfortunately, the majority are currently experiencing some level of pain with their WFM solution due to software constraints.
- How are retailers using analytics-based capabilities to improve store productivity? Heading the list is decreasing labour costs by optimizing workload distribution (48.5%). However, beyond cost cutting, retailers report they are focusing on two analytics-based productivity strategies - to leverage customer satisfaction KPIs (45.5%), and to optimize payroll allocation to reduce labour budget variance (39.4%).
- Nearly two thirds of respondents (64%) say they want to shift their task management processes focus to sales and customers.
- More than half (58.6%) of the respondents felt that WFM is playing a bigger role in the retail enterprise through the addition of multiple data sources to help optimize scheduling.
- The top technology that retailers will adopt by the end of the year is time and attendance data integration with forecasting algorithms.
The retail industry has long used analytics to optimize inventory, pricing and forecasting at a store-by-store level, but many retailers have been slow to extend analytics in an effective way into their WFM solutions. This is beginning to change as retailers begin to alter their view of WFM, from a point solution to an enterprise solution that requires end-to-end, omni-channel capabilities.