How retailers can boost revenue with workforce technology

Optimizing productivity to stay profitable

By Christian Berthelsen|Mar 22, 2023|1:10 pm CDT

In part one of our blog series, we discussed how retailers can tackle chronic labor shortages with technology and their general sentiments about the sector. For part two, we explore:

Technology’s role in retail resilience and success

Investing in workforce management technologies will undoubtedly be a priority for retailers and employees this year. According to our survey, almost half of US retail leaders are looking into various technologies for growth, like e-commerce (46%), store management (i.e. scheduling and productivity optimization solutions) (42%), HR automation (i.e. workforce management technology) (40%), and brand activations within department stores and supermarkets (35%). By investing in these technologies, forward-thinking retailers can reduce costs by streamlining and automating laborious manual processes for all.

Likewise, retail staff and Gen Z too, are proactively seeking employers who provide technologies that make their jobs easier and more efficient, according to our survey. Apps that give them access to digitized real-time communication, digital scheduling, online paychecks, and earned wage access (EWA) rank the highest. Moreover, for employees within the automotive services sector, warehouse automation and dark retail (63%) could transform their jobs. While the beauty and salon services (56%) could benefit from better point-of-sale automation technology, improving daily tasks. The same could also be said for sports, attractions, and entertainment services (60%).

“If the right technologies are used, it could definitely benefit both the retailers and their staff and lead to growth. For example, having the right staff scheduled at the right time and having clear communication between the managers and teams could create a productive workforce,” says Kristina Gansser, VP of Product at Fourth.

Strategies for creating a more efficient retail workforce and business operations

  1. Transform employee scheduling through the use of digital apps

As Gen Z make up over one-third of the global population, their needs will become center stage for employers and in all areas of society: retail, technology, and culture1. In the US, they make up more than a quarter of the population and are likely to become the most diverse generation the nation has seen, according to Deloitte (US). Automated scheduling tools like HotSchedules, for example, allow teams to complete every schedule in 45 minutes or less, helping promote operational excellence, drive profitability, and empower your workforce.

“It’s encouraging to see the value placed on workforce management technologies as the US retail industry focuses on survival in 2023. Ultimately, today’s retail workforce wants clear lines of communication. This not only ensures they feel valued but helps to identify emerging challenges. By employing a suite of technologies that offer a range of features for employees—from earned wage access to automated scheduling—retailers can offer real-time support and in return benefit from a happy workforce,” says Christian Berthelsen, CTO of Fourth.

  1. Record staff working hours in real-time through digitalized time and attendance technologies

According to our survey, an integrated digital time and attendance solution can help retailers remove the costs, frustration, inaccuracies, and maintenance of a physical time and attendance clock. For employees, being able to record their working hours digitally through a mobile app also helps keep their productivity high, and allows them to enjoy what they love to do, according to McKinsey & Company2. Fourth’s WebClock, is a reliable and affordable time and attendance app that helps your workforce accurately record their arrival, departure, and breaks during their shifts. Employees can also securely log into the app by entering their pin and taking a photo of themselves. This removes uncertainty by allowing employees to clock in anywhere, prevents time theft, gives managers push notifications in real-time, and helps you remain compliant with onboarding, payroll, labor, and applicant tracking (ATS) all in one integrated cloud-based app.

  1. Support employee wellbeing and reduce their financial stress in times of need

As mentioned in our previous blog, many employees, particularly hourly workers, prefer employers who provide them access to financial health incentives, such as EWA. This prevents them from having to resort to unsecured loans from financial institutions or predatory lenders—which often comes with fees as high as 400%3. But with the help of EWA, employees could withdraw up to 50% of their salary in advance quickly and at no extra cost. Financial workforce technologies, like Fuego, offers exactly that and, in fact, more. Through the Fuego app, hourly workers can instantly view their earned wages available for immediate withdrawal digitally. Fuego also offers Fuego Visa card which allows employees to access their pay two days early. It is not limited to working for specific employers either, providing unbanked or underbanked workers the peace of mind from having an account and Visa card for use, whenever and wherever. Providing a crucial solution to a problem commonly faced by hourly workers is very likely to reduce employee dissatisfaction/turnover and create a productive and loyal workforce, boosting business operations.

  1. Accurately forecast demand and labor needs

With the cost of living, inflation, and labor costs at an all-time high, retailers must accurately forecast demand and labor to maximize profit from notable days, local and global events, and yearly trends. By relying on analytics and data produced by tools, such as Fourth’s AI Forecasting, you can ensure that you have the right people at the right time.“Retailers should have analytics across their whole system and as part of their business strategy. Through Hotschedules, our AI Forecasting technology helps in predicting the right number of workforce and prepare scheduling accordingly,” says Kristina Gansser.

“Our digital solutions were designed with hourly workers and managers front of mind and are highly ranked in app stores.”

Reflections and final thoughts for consideration

Although 2023 could be challenging, forward-thinking retailers must realize the opportunities technologies can create amid the headwinds. It is crucial that retailers remain resilient and listen to the needs of their workforce and consumers.

Here are the key learnings and final thoughts for retailers’ considerations:

  1. Labor shortages, supply chains, and inflation will be the biggest worries for retailers this year
  2. Despite the rising cost of living, consumer spending shows resilience despite some fluctuations and volatility in sales figures
  3. Talent retention will be crucial for retailers to reduce costs and increase productivity and maximize margins. They will need to look into technologies that help effectively execute strategies and keep their workforce engaged by tapping into employee needs
  4. Employee access to digital apps to manage online paychecks, schedules, digitized real-time communication, and EWA will be key in attracting talent
  5. A shorter and automated process for interviewing and onboarding will be necessary for creating an attractive employee brand and an engaged workforce from day one

We hope that you found the blog series insightful. To learn more about our solutions, give us a call to talk about how we can help you create opportunities during these tough times.

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