The success of bricks-and-mortar depends on more than simply driving traffic into the store. Once a customer enters a store, unless they have an experience that matches their high expectations, they’re unlikely to return or recommend the brand to others.
In order to provide a successful in-store experience, businesses need to analyse in-store traffic data, and combine this with transactional insights to understand store performance and effectively determine their staff scheduling and maximise sales.
The importance of understanding peak hours
For example, by leveraging traffic and transactional data, a store manager is able to recognise that the greatest number of shoppers visit their store between 11am and 1pm on Thursdays. Armed with this information, the manager can then optimise associate scheduling and ensure that the most effective workers are on the floor during this time frame. Further, store managers can avoid scheduling tasking efforts (e.g., stocking) during peak hours and reinforce maximum floor coverage.
Businesses often make the critical mistake of adding backroom labour to the sales staff already on the floor to handle activities like inventory, stocking, and delivery receipt during peak selling hours. While this scheduling strategy may be appropriate for some big box retailers with constant backroom needs, most stores are better served to schedule these activities during slow traffic periods, utilising sales floor staff to receive shipments, restock storeroom shelves and perform inventory duties during their downtime.
Additionally, staff can take their breaks at a time that will not affect the overall running of the store, ensuring that effective cover and support is maintained throughout the predicted peak times.
Stores associates are a key to driving conversion
By ensuring that the optimal amount of labour is scheduled during peaks in traffic, and the correct level of skill set is on hand to help with customer queries, businesses will soon realise the benefits of strategically planning their workforce and turn labour from an expense into a strategic sales tool.
Not only can margins be cut by strategically balancing the staff:customer ratio, but transaction rates will increase due to reduced queue times as customers remain in-store as they enjoy their experience.
In addition, the best shop-floor sellers should not be ‘wasted’ on back room activity, unless the store is shut for business. By taking top selling assistants off the floor while customers are browsing could affect the amount of sales taken that day.
But this isn’t to say that lower level staff or less experienced staff won’t or shouldn’t have the opportunity to better their skills and become increasingly needed during high peaks in traffic. Retailers need to invest in ongoing staff training to ensure that best practices become the norm, and that every customer’s shopping experience is optimised.
By developing employee training procedures in which traffic and conversion rate play integral roles, sales staff, managers and company executives will begin to see that certain sales behaviours impact sales more than others.
Ultimately, staff need to be trained to understand the impact their behaviour has on the business overall and should know the value they bring to the retailer. By leveraging vital shopper traffic data to effectively balance the workforce to meet with growing customer expectations will enable any retailer to reap the rewards of strategic planning.
About Steve Richardson
Steve is the UK & MEA Regional and International Accounts Director at ShopperTrak.
He started my career training as a graphic designer, before moving to Boots, the UK’s leading high street chemist, where he worked for 15 years in different roles across Operations, store design and space planning, as well as managing the rollout of the retailer’s POS system across its store estate nationwide.
He also worked at L’Oreal in a category management capacity, before eventually joining FootFall (now ShopperTrak) in 2010 to head up the UK business.