Three ways retailers can make Black Friday better for associates
Black Friday can be a massively rewarding day, but also a very challenging one, for both management and employees on the front lines. Here are some key ways for retailers to help managers and associates stay motivated and engaged, from Ceridian’s SVP Retail Strategy and Execution John Orr.
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For retailers, it’s a 24/7 challenge to meet the many demands of effective workforce management – keeping your store well-staffed, handling the inevitable scheduling conflicts, and maximizing the productivity of your staff members. These issues are always relevant, but they’re especially pressing as the holiday season picks up and business gets a little frantic.
Many retailers have already been promoting holiday specials, but the day after Thanksgiving is still considered the true kick-off to the holiday shopping season.
According to the NRF, more than 174 million Americans shopped in stores and online from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday in 2017, with 77 million consumers citing Black Friday as the most popular day for in-store shopping.
Some retailers in recent years have decided not to participate in Black Friday altogether, for reasons ranging from brand alignment to employee support.
However, many retailers are still not only upholding the Black Friday tradition, but they are also maximizing it with earlier openings and sneak-peek promotions. This makes Black Friday a massively rewarding day, but also a very challenging one, both for management and for employees on the front lines.
It’s critical for retailers to optimize their operation to help managers and associates be successful, stay motivated and engaged, and therefore deliver an exceptional customer experience.
Keep these tips in mind to not simply survive the day, but to thrive:
Reference data from other special periods
By referencing data from special periods, stores are better prepared with proper plans for the seasonal indexes that impact the holiday season. Better planning helps toavoid the unnecessary and unwelcome associate call-ins (calling employees in at the last minute, which leaves them in limbo) while ensuring proper coverage for both in-store and unified commerce work in the store. In addition, improved levels of forecasting – optimization of budgets, labor spend distribution, and shift coverage, for example – and the actual service level commitments should also be applied specific to the holiday season. This will ensure proper coverage for expected levels and dimensions of customer and employee service.
Schedule for increased demand
During the holiday season, retailers’ already stressful scheduling challenges are intensified by the influx of seasonal workers, in addition to their regular workforce. Using scheduling tools helps managers deal with challenges, including ensuring adequate coverage and handling time-off requests and sick days in a timely manner.
Scheduling technology also gives managers visibility into forecasted demand and associate availability, for faster, more informed power hour decision-making. With these tools at hand, managers and associates alike can be more skilled, flexible and empowered.
Support customer experience with technology
When you have high traffic online and in-store, you must move quickly to serve all of them the way they expect from your brand promise. High-tech solutions in the store, such as mobile point of sale apps for processing quick payments, or integrated omnichannel support from the store are hugely beneficial.
From an employee experience perspective, mobile self-service is a way to empower both associates and managers to take more control over their schedules and work-life balance. Engaged employees help drives sales and therefore your bottom line – companies with highly engaged employees outperform their competitors by 147%.
Your employees are the face of your company, and they’re the key to happy customers and big sales. So, when it comes to managing your employees, you need solutions that are employee-friendly while offering you powerful analytics to make good business decisions.
Optimizing employee scheduling based on customer demand, supporting compliance with work rules, and empowering with self-service will go a long way to engaging your workforce through the hectic holiday season and beyond, while compelling the seasonal workers to think about and become full-time career employees. Engagement is a function of a company’s systems in place and its culture. Don’t overlook the power of having current-day systems to support your engagement culture.