Softworks Blog

Retailer Focus: 5 Steps on Reducing Costs & Increasing Productivity

Posted by Triona Cahalane on Wed, Feb 15, 2012

How retailers can reduce costs, increase employee productivity & improve customer service using an automated Workforce Management Solution - The 5 Step Process

The costs of the workforce will probably always remain the largest single overhead for most industries, but particularly so for the retail industry.  Being able to understand and analyse where time is being spent and doing what, is an extremely valuable tool to the industry at a time when every single euro counts towards the bottom line. Being just 1% cheaper than your competition, could be the defining decision maker for your customers. Obviously, it’s an option to reduce the price of what you are selling by 1%, but that will most likely directly impact on your profit margin. What if it didn't have to? What if you could control costs while at the same time, improve employee productivity and offer exceptional customer service. Our 5 step process demonstrates just how feasible this is for retailers.

Retail Blog

Step 1 - Carry out a stock take of all your costs

Managing the direct cost of your overheads is all about negotiating with suppliers and finding the best deal available. When you have already squeezed every last percentage of a discount from your suppliers and cut every overhead, what's left to stop that 1% price reduction from hitting the profit margin? The answer lies with what is probably your biggest cost and most valuable asset – your workforce. Knowing what your workforce is spending time on will not only assist you in reducing workforce costs but also let you focus on increasing employee productivity and improving customer service.

 Step 2 - Control your controllable labour costs

Initial attempts to control employee costs almost always focus on direct costs, such as wages and benefits, while other costs remain hidden. Absenteeism, unapproved overtime, disability benefit schemes, questionable sickness absences, lates, finishing early, long breaks, unproductive employees, all boost a company’s true labour costs. But these expenses are usually not as easy to identify and more importantly, quantify or qualify. So how do you control your labour costs.  By automating the method by which time and attendance data is collected, manipulated and processed you can have complete control and transparency in relation to your workforce and payroll costs.

Step 3 - Right people - Right Place - Right Time - Right Cost

One employee too many on a schedule is a costly mistake and can mean the difference between profit and loss. By pre-planning your schedules, using an automated scheduling solution, you can optimise your employee cost / sales revenue ratios. This schedule will then become your budget and ensure you always have the right people scheduled at the right time.  By planning your schedule in advance and in line with your projected sales, you will be assured that you can offer the level of service your customers expect while always keeping a close eye on your costs.

Step 4 - Exceptional Customer Service 24/7

Exceptional customer service starts with satisfied employees. By understanding your employees key skills, attributes and what drives them, you will ensure you have the right person doing the right job. Get to know and record where your staff’s skills lie and tailor your schedule around them. Consider your employees work-live balance, as a happy workforce will result in higher morale and better productivity. Some of us are great in the mornings, while useless late at night, so get the best out of your employees by scheduling them in line with their strengths and weaknesses.  

Step 5 - The one stop shop

Without, having the right processes and tools in place, establishing the true cost of labour remains elusive for most retailers. As the industry becomes more and more competitive in a society that has less disposable income, it becomes increasingly necessary to define these hidden costs as a first step in effectively managing them. For many retailers, current operations and infrastructure, do not collect and analyse data in a way that it can be used strategically to make better decisions regarding labour costs, schedules and skills. The implementation of an automated workforce solution to identify, monitor and track this data will provide across the board strategic benefits to a retailers performance, profitability and customer service. 

Topics: Workforce Solutions, Retailers