This Holiday Season, Store Employees Need Help Too

By Will Roche, Senior Director of Profitect

It's a widely known fact that store employees want to please their customers - especially during the busiest shopping season of the year. Yet, in this omnichannel, customer-centric world, meeting this expectation has become increasingly challenging. The reality is employees need help too and it cannot come by way of endless lists of tasks being sent down to lower-level employees from upper-level management. To compete, more and more services have been introduced into retail stores in the hopes of creating an unmatched customer experience. 

While we have made progress, the employee working at the retail store now has a lot of learning to do. Store associates must be ready and able to serve the customer with in-depth product knowledge, ancillary suggestions based on past purchases, instant access to information about availability, the ability to ship purchases, receive goods, stock shelves, clean the actual store - and the list goes on and on. 

So I have to ask the question, how exactly can we help today's retail employee? 

One key way to help employees is to send simple mobile messages to the frontline of retail staff to help them with their job rather than asking them to review reports. While it may seem simple, it can be a very effective way to ensure operations are running smoothly and everything is in place to meet the needs of customers. These on-demand messages must be received as enablers for the employees to do their best work possible. 

Tasks in themselves denote a sense of obligation. This means, employees may feel they are not capable of assigning tasks themselves and they must be told what to do. Now, turn this around and provide employees with messages or, better yet, let's call it an opportunity, and this empowers the employee.

For example, if someone is alerted to something that might be headed in a wrong direction, this comes across more like a friend whispering in your ear. An example might be, "Please check product availability of 34x32 jeans." This information is not meant to berate employees, but it is a helpful bit of information, that empowers the employee to fix the problem. 

What many don't consider, is the everyday tasks that need to be completed in a retail store are massive and only growing. Thought must be put into everything employees are allocated to achieve. The in-store brick and mortar experience must mirror the online experience and being able to reach today's connected customer has become an even bigger challenge. 

The solution is to provide a prescription: 

When you are not feeling well, a trip to the doctor is typically required. The doctor will be able to carefully articulate symptoms and then prescribe a medication or a solution to fix the illness. Prescriptive analytics in retail provide the same step by step elixir that can rid any retail establishment of issues that plague the stores. 

Prescriptive analytics suggests decision options on how to take advantage of a future opportunity or mitigate risk based on the implications of each decision option. This is where both the art and science of prescriptive analytics become apparent. Prescriptive analytics in retail delivers opportunities to frontline employees in plain English - things that need to be looked at to improve the customer experience. Something as simple as a frustrated employee searching through various aisles for a product can be entirely avoided with the implementation of prescriptive analytics. These opportunities help the store employee by empowering them to perform at their highest levels. This also provides a much better, efficient experience for the customer. 

While the shopping experience has provided consumers with more options, many retailers have not properly identified how the employee can be armed with the best tools for success. Empowering employees across all levels and all lines of business to be properly educated and ready to face current challenges, creates a win-win experience for the customer and the retail establishment alike. It's difficult to predict what will happen next, but it's simple to instill a solution that can prescribe an action in real-time to the employees that are set out to deliver an excellent experience to all customers.