Improving Store Labor Standards: A Key Ingredient for Successful Store Execution

While the chorus around omnichannel and digital commerce’s growing impact and the need to transform stores becomes louder every day, retailers need to account for how these changes affect the work associates perform and the store’s labor budget. The reality is that a majority of retailers are unsure of how to upgrade labor standards and labor hours for maximizing store productivity and ensuring smooth operations. Labor standards are defined as the average amount of time it takes for store associates and managers to complete customer service, sales and operational tasks in the store. Retailers use a varied set of sales, customer service and operational labor standards for day-to-day store execution. In order to achieve consistent store execution, retailers need to ensure that all these standards are always in line with constantly evolving customer expectations, labor regulations and related store labor policies/procedures. Effective labor standards and related standard operating procedures (SOPs) in the stores include accurate labor planning for all tasks, performance evaluation, insights for operational improvements and cost minimization and above all documentation of the best methods. EKN recently conducted a survey of 63 US retailers and spoke to several softlines and hardlines retail executives to understand their viewpoint on this key retail store execution area. The general consensus is that labor standards are not well documented or updated effectively within the retail organization. In fact, nearly two-thirds of retailers (64%) update labor standards and labor hour models infrequently- range from quarterly, annual or on an ad-hoc basis. Another major business pain that retailers are experiencing is the lack of proper organizational management and consensus on issues related to...

Retail Associates are not Set-Up for Success

We recently authored our 2015 retail associate or labor related research: Managing and Engaging Modern Labor for Omni-Channel Success. The objective behind this blog is to highlight the need for a different labor model in retail and why so many associates in retail are destined to fail at their jobs even if they are sales or operational superstars. For those of us who made a career in retail by working our way up from the stores know that most retail executives in marketing, merchandising, IT and even store operations (you read correct!) are often surprised to learn that associates perform new, unique and often innovative Omni-channel tasks in the stores every day. There are ever increasing numbers of tasks including but not limited to: loyalty, offers, price comparisons, up-sell/cross-sell, inventory look-up, and ship from store, endless aisle, in-store pick-up, integrated payments to more complex Omni-channel order processing and returns. Our latest stores survey indicates that 84% of retailers are increasing number of online orders fulfilled from the store, only 31% are increasing employees per store. Today, stores need to deal with more Omni-channel tasks and more or less the same labor that performs these tasks. While such store tasks are performed to achieve real-time message personalization to customers and unified merchandising/inventory execution across channels, in reality these tasks determine the fate of sales uplift, gross margin and customer satisfaction in the store. Our research indicates that Omni-channel message and order personalization in the store remains a top challenge for 1 in 2 retailers. The role of the associate therefore acquires paramount importance. Some may argue that arming associates with...

Managing and Engaging Modern Labor for Omni – Channel Success

While seamless retail store execution depends on store planning and the ability to offer great products and shopping experience; employee engagement and optimum labor hour utilization is arguably the most critical strategic element in stores’ arsenal for driving consistent execution, sales uplift and customer satisfaction. Download this Benchmark report to understand what if in-store labor hour utilization was converted to a 50-50 balance between operational and customer service tasks and how can retailers and their brand partners work towards creating such a balance and attain better sales, employee engagement and customer connection as a result. Download Full...