Melbourne – 15 October 2021 – Now that Australian retail and hospitality sectors are getting ready to reopen, businesses are using this time to optimise their rosters to ensure they are efficient with no wasted cost as they get ready for their busiest period, being Christmas.
For these businesses, one of the most challenging tasks is to identify a new business model and set of priorities that accommodate social, cultural, and regulated changes in light of the pandemic. Throughout the crisis, the retail and hospitality industries have been flexible and keeping up with ever-shifting lockdown legislation and restrictions. However, industry experts expect that the future of the industry relies on swift digital experience coupled with available physical stores catered to answer customer questions and steer buying decisions.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the retail and food retailing industries in Australia have been down across the entire country by -8.9% in July 2021. This is coupled with decreased consumer confidence which lost -5.2% in June 2021 due to economic uncertainty. Consumers are tightening up their purse strings on discretionary items as pandemic fatigue sets in.
All is not lost, however, as innovative and retail and hospitality businesses use the opportunity to configure, automate and optimise their operations.
“Early on in the pandemic, we saw a number of retail and hospitality businesses transition into digital services. Those services have now accrued a series of customer data that shows buying preferences, customer demographics and retail predictions that will influence the physical experience moving forward,” comments Lisa Spiden, CEO and Founder at Workforce Analytics.
The recent Australian Consumer and Retail Studies report conducted by Monash Business Institute uncovered that 59% of customers preferred to spend in physical stores when they had the chance. While retailer websites and ecommerce stores were popular for product and price comparisons, physical stores were most used for product information and final buying decision.
“So, what we know is that customers are not so much spending now, however, they are utilising the time to research extensively on products they want. Then, when physical stores open, retail and hospitality staff are expected to be able to assist them with that final decision. Customers are going to be excited to have a physical store interaction and the business needs to capitalise on that enthusiasm,”
“A number of businesses are aware of this and are considering how their physical store is made up – with the knowledge of digital customer buying behaviour – and how to staff it in order to increase sales while reducing operational cost. Customers will have high expectations of the staff to be able to steer their buying decisions with product knowledge – so careless rostering with inexperienced staff will just not do.” says Spiden.
With a recent surge in customer enquiries from the retail and hospitality sector on how to improve rostering and store performance operations, the team at Workforce Analytics have leveraged their extensive experience across these sectors to support designing the required staffing, rostering and payroll modelling with major enterprises across Australia, and have been doing so since 2013.
“The key priorities we have seen from our customers is how, operationally, they can really make the most out of their physical store operations when they open back up again – how to increase sales during certain periods of the day, what stock needs to be positioned with what customer service expert, and what times of day should they be staffing breaks and mealtimes.”
“All of this is also wrapped up with a consideration of compliance; as in, how can they ensure they are paying their staff correctly according to Fair Work Australia legislation and various award rates.”
“The most innovative businesses we work with know that if they get this right, they can save on average 10% per year on payroll, as well as increase sales and customer satisfaction. They’re using this time and their ecommerce data to prepare for an influx of excited customers who are ready to finally make those well researched buying decisions, in a physical store.” Spiden concludes.