A few weeks ago at NRF 2017, we spoke with a number of retailers looking to improve the customer experience in their stores. Challenged by today’s online competitors, brick-and-mortar retailers are doing their best to reimagine their stores with new services and technology.

However, we also found that many of the same retailers were overlooking the most basic of all customer experience requirements – making sure that the workforce is able to provide good service based on the same capabilities. Wi-Fi, mobile, collaborative, and analytics tools aren’t limited to the customer. They also help to ensure that the front lines–the associates–are able to do their jobs as well as possible.

Day-to-day staffing: One of the most critical roles of an associate manager is managing day-to-day staffing. Determining how many people to bring in and when, and where to place them in the store, is a major cost point for store locations. This problem is often complicated by outside factors such as headquarters’ requirements of service per square foot, for example.

The good news is that new technologies can give you access to previously unavailable, more granular sources of customer and employee traffic data. Based on a network of device-derived heat maps, sensors, traffic counters, cameras, and other tools, retailers can draw on real-time metrics for a more detailed understanding of how to make best use of staff within the store.

Workforce productivity: Senior managers also can use such analytics to guide and motivate the workforce to improve productivity and efficiency. Your analysis helps associates understand who’s in the store, what they’re doing, where they are, and why. As a result, employees can assist shoppers faster and give them a more personalized experience.

Performance tracking: Access to advanced analytics makes it possible for you to measure performance, revenue per employee, and other metrics to incent and encourage your best workers. By monitoring and tracking performance and using online tools and apps to set realistic goals, you can have confidence that you’re rewarding and promoting employees with a robust skillset, good work ethic, and strong company loyalty.

Collaboration: Advances in automated scheduling and labor planning tools let managers improve motivation and store performance. Performance metrics can encourage increased collaboration among management, employees, and customers. For example, Gartner suggests using mobile collaboration and gamification to better connect motivating actions with customer outcomes (2015).

To see what a day in the life of a tech-enabled retail associate could look like, check out our new Infographic.


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Mary Freeman

No Longer with Cisco