Innovative Retail Technologies

NOV-DEC 2016

Innovative Retail Technologies (formerly Integrated Solutions For Retailers) is the premier source for innovative yet pragmatic technology solutions in the retail industry.

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Innovative retailers are recalibrating in-store workforce management to meet growing omni-channel demand. C onsumers' shopping habits continue to evolve at the hands of e-commerce and mobility. It's a rapid evolution that's changing the customer dynamic in stores, thus demanding change at the store associate level. Human capital and workforce management software providers find them- selves bearing the brunt of facilitating that change. We caught up with John Orr, SVP retail at Ceridian HCM, and Prashanth Palakurthi, founder and CEO of Reflexis Systems, Inc., for a discussion of the store associate's role in an omni-channel environment. The devices consumers use (smartphones, tablets, phablets, etc.) are driving the change in their expectations of the store experience. At the same time, store associates have their own, similar expectations of the technolo- gies and conveniences they're afforded at work. Orr says these expectations are driving employee demand for mobile WFM and HCM engagement, including more convenient mobile time off requests, schedule manage- ment, time card review and approval, pay stub and earning statements review, benefits plan review and participation, team communica- tion and coaching, and more. Meanwhile, e-commerce is driving task, associate, and incentive program changes in the store. "As omni-channel drives save-the- sale initiatives, the type of work done in stores is shifting," says Orr. "Examples impacting work required in the store include: ship from store to home, inventory anywhere and ship to store or home, and buy online and pick up at store." As that kind of fulfillment flexibility becomes the standard for saving sales, stores are playing Where Omni-Channel Retail And WFM Collide In addition to the pressures of increased customer expectations, store managers and associates are challenged by having to interact with too many store-facing systems .... Prashanth Palakurthi Founder and CEO, Reflexis Systems, Inc. a bigger role in the distribution channel. That increases staff demand for receiving services and upsell opportunities. "This offers another area for improved service quality, experience, and conversion. Labor models and budget models are changing to reflect this change in allocation," says Orr. Reflexis' Palakurthi cites another challenge presented by the onslaught of responsibilities at the store level: application overkill. "In ad- dition to the pressures of increased customer expectations, store managers and associates are challenged by having to interact with too many store-facing systems, sometimes as many as 20 to 30 systems on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis," he says. Palakurthi says to mitigate this complexity, store manag- ers and associates need a single, intuitive interface that shows prioritized alerts and best practice actions to respond to labor and store operations tasks and issues that impact the customer experience. "This single interface on mobile devices should also be able to update back-end systems so that store managers and associates don't have to learn and switch between disparate store systems — one place to respond to employee self-service, labor operations, task management, and customer- facing alerts." As it relates to the omni-channel influence, however, Orr says some back office hurdles remain. "Many retailers have been slow to address managerial accounting and incentive plans. They focused first on websites and mo- bile apps, then returned to the core of logistics and inventory visibility to lay the founda- tion for omni-channel essentials," he says. As BY MATT PILLAR Nov-Dec 2016 30 such, many have yet to address performance management and incentive plans related to this revenue-agnostic retail environment. "The physical approach has limited views of where the sale occurred and who gets credit for that sale, which falls apart in an omni-channel sup- ply chain. Many retailers are just now realizing that there is a misalignment between the sales dollar, the incentive plan targets, and the variable compensation awarded as a result," says Orr. WFM/Commerce Application Integration Achieving that alignment requires data visi- bility-enabling integration. "The need to have an accurate real-time, network-wide view into inventory levels and position is causing retail- ers to revisit their order management systems [OMS]," says Palakurthi. He cites a glut of nega- tive press during the 2015 holiday shopping season, when too many customers arrived at stores to pick up online orders that were either not ready or sometimes even out of stock at that location. "An-up-to-date OMS pro- vides an accurate view of inventory from the What's Next

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