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Study: Associates complain they can’t access necessary info

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Despite retailer efforts to deliver information, store employees still struggle to access the information needed to complete tasks.

In fact, 75% of decision makers said their employees frequently ask about procedures that are documented, and 73% indicated that critical information is scattered across many disparate locations.

These details were revealed in “Are Enterprises Failing their DesklessWorkforce?” The report, from Inkling, surveyed 201 business and IT decision makers responsible for workforce documentation and productivity. Overall, it evaluates how U.S.-based organizations currently disseminate key work information.

Results revealed that despite the technology revolution of the past two decades, an entire category of workers has been left behind. And companies that continue to under-serve this significant portion of the workforce will reduce employee productivity and satisfaction, ultimately hindering the business' ability to win, serve, and retain customers, the study said.

"These research results show that we're not yet addressing field employees with modern technology that drives productivity," said Matt MacInnis, founder and CEO of Inkling.

"In the retail segment in particular, employee productivity needs to improve if the cost structure is going to be competitive against online channels. We need to fulfill the promise of mobile technology: front-line and field workers, aligned around common priorities, and executing efficiently,” he said. “It's critical to driving employee engagement, not to mention bottom-line performance."

This shift is critical, especially with employment in general merchandise stores declining by 89,000 since October 2016, according to a recent jobs report from the U.S. Department of Labor.

While the majority of retailers continue to grapple with bringing their deskless workforce into the 21st century, those that have successfully deployed modern mobile technology have experienced gains.

Armed with a mobile platform, including Inkling’s workforce enablement platform, retailers can distribute essential work information that frontline workers and managers need to do their jobs, As a result, employees spend time on the most impactful activities, eliminating wasted work and reducing labor spend.

According to Forrester Consulting, companies that invest in this kind of engaging, interactive, real-time content can raise employee experience and productivity levels. Specifically, decision-makers credit digitized, interactive, mobile-friendly content with a 36% increase in paper savings, a 26% increase in employee productivity, and 31% increase in better customer experiences, according to Forrester.

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Specialty flooring retailer completes IPO

BY Marianne Wilson

The fast-growing Floor & Decor Holdings announced the closing of its initial public offering.

The company’s shares are now trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “FND.” Founded in 2000, Floor & Decor is a multichannel specialty retailer of hard surface flooring and related accessories. It offers a broad in-stock assortment of tile, wood, laminate and natural stone flooring along with decorative and installation accessories.

The company has doubled in size in five years, with sales growing from $277 million in 2011 to more than $772 million in 2016, reported Atlanta Business Chronicle. It has been profitable for the past five years, according to its IPO filing. Net income grew from $7.5 million in 2011 to more than $26 million in 2016, the report said.

Floor & Décor operates more than 70 stores in 17 states, with a high concentration of locations in Florida and Georgia. Stores promotes the slogan: “Everyday Low Prices. Period.”

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Predictive analytics drive specialty retailer’s new product intros

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

New product introduction volume continues to increase. Lilly Pulitzer’s analytics platform helps hone in on the winners.

In an omnichannel world, customer satisfaction is key, which means merchandise must be available when shoppers want it. By extending its partnership with First Insight, Lilly Pulitzer will continue to use predictive analytics to make faster and more accurate design, buying and pricing decisions, and gain the insight needed to mitigate risks associated with new product introductions.

For example, its not uncommon for Lilly Pulitzer to navigate among thousands of new products and designs. The retailer begins to streamline its journey by engaging customers through online social tools to gather real-time data on new products. This data is filtered through predictive analytic models to determine which products present the greatest opportunity.

“First Insight’s analysis of consumers’ merchandising preferences, print favorites, and style trends provides our teams with pre-season insight into new product performance, giving them more confidence in the buying decisions and allowing us to tailor our assortment to match our consumers’ needs,” said Kate Kenny, VP of merchandising and planning, Lilly Pulitzer.

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