Running a modern retail store can be a challenging task. According to Zeynep Ton,
a Professor of Operations Management at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, a typical supermarket carries nearly 39,000 products, runs 100 promotions a week, and serves 2,500 customers a day. Amidst all this activity, store employees must constantly shift inventory from storage into the right shelves to meet demand (which fluctuates constantly), operate POS machines for checkout, manage the backroom, oversee receiving/warehousing, and perform housekeeping duties as part of store operations. While infrastructure and leadership are elements that determine a retailer’s success, it is the store workforce that plays a key role in retail execution to improve store performance. Workforce analytics can help improve workforce management so that employees are utilizing their abilities to the maximum.
Products don’t move themselves – and while IT systems will help determine where the merchandise has to be placed on shelves, it is still often the poorly paid, poorly trained, and poorly motivated store workforce who has to do the job –
and retailers will pay a heavy price if this is done inefficiently. Take the case of Border’s, the once-superstore-now defunct bookstore: while the company had one of the most advanced IT systems for tracking inventory and merchandise in the industry, one in six items of merchandise at Borders was misplaced. The reason? Poor workforce management.