It’s rush hour, and your team of two is serving customers at the checkout as fast as they can. But no matter how much they get ahead, the cash registers are still understaffed. Customers have lost their patience and left their spots in line. Then before you know it, they’re headed to your competitor’s store.
As a retailer, this scenario may sound familiar. You can resonate with fluctuating peak periods in your own stores. You might also recall times you scheduled too much staff during slower hours with fewer sales.
With inflation recently hitting a 40-year high, many retailers can’t afford to lose customers or overschedule staff. There’s added pressure as businesses face changing consumer spending habits that have stemmed from higher price tags.
These economic hurdles have left retail managers wondering what’s the most effective way to adapt to changing customer demand. Learn how three retailers are successfully adapting by using smart tools, metrics, and optimizations.
Trek Bikes is conducting business in over 100 countries globally. With so many stores to manage, it’s essential they stay on top of changing demand and budget.
Their business has been successfully doing so by planning adequate staff ratios and creating cost-efficient schedules with demand forecasting software.
Tom Spoke, their Global Director of IT-ERP, says that paying attention to their sales per hour metric, in particular, has helped his storefronts “be smart when scheduling.” They can forecast demand by demographic, sales history data, weather, and foot traffic patterns.
With real-time results, his team can ensure they have enough staff to support busy days and avoid overspending on labor costs during slower days.
“When it comes to building a schedule, we need to stay within our budget from a store standpoint and make sure we don’t have too many staff scheduled at the wrong times on the wrong days.”
Lance Stillwaugh owns two Ace Hardware stores in Colorado. He keeps up with changing demand by being super nimble with staffing — and keeping a very close eye on payroll costs as a percentage of sales.
He’s invested in scheduling software that can track his payroll cost percentage and allows him to easily shift his staffing up or down with demand in a heartbeat. With that, he’s able to ensure the right staff coverage, at the right times, and keep labor costs within budget.
“By monitoring your payroll as a percentage of sales by day, by week, and track it monthly, by the end of the year, you know where you’re going to end up, and it’s not a surprise,” Lance shares.
Across two of his stores, he’s been able to reduce payroll costs as a percentage of sales by 10% YOY because of his investment.
“The two things that eat up cash are payroll and inventory. We definitely want to make sure that we have the right people on schedule to help the customers. But then we don’t want to spend a lot of money and waste a lot of labor when it’s not necessary.”
“I like the fact that we can look at the dashboard and see the stats page and make adjustments in the middle of the week if necessary, move people into different roles, as well as schedule a little heavy on some if we think things are going to be busier.”
With costs going higher, retailers can’t afford to hire too many admins who spend too much time on tasks that can be automated.
UNTUCKit has saved time and reduced workloads by investing in a smart system that help automate in-store operations like managing staff attendance, payroll, and labor budgets.
Before using a smart system, Michael Saldana, UNTUCKit’s Retail and Ops Manager, explains their old process was quite ineffective and time-consuming: “we were typing shifts into a spreadsheet with formulas that would track spend. You had to hope that people were scheduling to the budget.”
As a manager, his top priority is to streamline processes and make sure there is less time doing activities that are not dollar generating.
Their investment has paid off as they’ve reduced staff admin time by 50% across 45 stores. This has allowed UNTUCKit staff to focus more on customers on the sales floor.
“The time savings has allowed us to keep people on the sales floor and have more time being able to cultivate and build sales – leading to higher sales days.”
Adjusting to change
Adapting to new trends, changing demand, and consumer spending habits are not easy tasks for most retailers. But they are possible with the right investments.
Keep an open mind about utilizing new tools and optimizations to support your business with demand planning, reducing labor costs, and staying on budget.
Want guidance on where and when to schedule your employees, how to protect your bottom line, and drive more sales? See how Deputy can help.