Labor Management: Automated Solutions Take Center Stage

Scott Welty, global VP retail industry strategy, JDA Software, Scottsdale, Ariz.,

Managing labor remains one of a retail company's biggest challenges — and most untapped opportunities. JDA Software's Scott Welty talks about workforce management trends with Chain Store Age.

What are some common mistakes retailers make when it comes to managing labor?

One of the biggest mistakes retailers make is treating workforce management like a cost center versus an investment center. Looking at labor as a cost of doing business is an old-school mentality that isn't applicable in today's environment. Today, retailers' ability to deliver on customer experience through excellent customer service is the difference between success and failure.

Another common mistake is relative to workforce scheduling. To avoid situations where staffing is not synced with demand, retailers should take an active role in shaping demand by aligning workforce schedules with enterprise initiatives that directly impact foot traffic, such as promotions and markdowns.

How can an automated solution help retailers?

The No. 1 way automated workforce management (WFM) solutions can help retailers is by creating a better customer experience and ensuring the right associates are available at the right place at the right time.

What impact can an effective WFM solution have on customer service?

Customers return because of the service they receive. Therein remains the importance of the workforce and why associates are the lynch pin to repeat traffic and repeat business. To effectively utilize the store — and associates — as the center of an all-channel strategy, retailers need to offer consumers a consistent experience across channels. To achieve this, retailers should rely on WFM technologies that look at the workforce holistically across the enterprise.

How is mobility impacting workforce management?

Workforce mobility is the driving factor of retail workforce management today. Mobility is shaping and enhancing the way retailers engage with their employees, and the way the employees engage with customers.

Why is mobility so important to WFM?

The reasons are numerous, but it begins with the fact that customers and employees are starting to expect — and demand — workforce mobility.

Whether mobile WFM solutions are used to help associates spend more time on the sales floor with customers, or if employees leverage mobile applications for self-service shift management, mobility is where society and the retail industry are headed. It will be increasingly vital for retailers to embrace workforce mobility to remain competitive — for customers and employees.

What advantages does JDA bring to WFM?

JDA offers market-leading retail workforce management solutions with world-class applications for scheduling optimization, task management, mobility, time and attendance, enterprise workforce management and other critical workforce functions. We also offer cloud-enabled workforce management solutions so retailers can upgrade almost seamlessly to take advantage of the most dynamic, innovative and unique WFM capabilities that continue to drive results for their business.

In addition, JDA WFM is able to utilize a single demand forecast for integrated workforce planning and execution aligned to the rest of the organization. This single view of demand ensures retailers can optimally balance their workforce, inventory, transportation, and all planning and execution disciplines, to not only provide superior customer service but also to optimize critical assets for improved overall profitability.

How does JDA's solution help retailers solve their challenges in this area?

Retailers need their workforce, and their workforce management technologies, to be the distinguishing factor to drive customer loyalty and customer growth. JDA's workforce management solutions empower employees across the enterprise to drive profitability and customer satisfaction in a seamless, all-channel retail model.

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