WFM Systems for Retailers in the Age of the Omni-Channel

Introduction

Have you ever seen a product online and then gone into the physical store to try the product out and make sure it works as expected? Well you may not have realized it, but you are shopping through the multi-channel approach to sales known as omni-channel retailing. Omni-channel retailing involves utilizing online and in person shopping techniques.

Omni-channelled retailing and the closure of thousands of storefronts worldwide is the reality for today’s retailers, both large and small. Sustained success at the storefront level depends on optimizing a Workforce Management (WFM) system around a new age of on-demand workers.

Rise of the omni-channel retailers

As we advance into a society that lives in cyberspace, there has been an increase in the use of online stores to promote and sell products. Storefronts are becoming a place for customers to test products or as showrooms, and thousands of retailers around the world are shutting their doors as consumer behavior shifts towards an online focus. As efforts are directed online, managers have more ability to oversee their operations and workforce remotely lowering their overhead costs.

On-Demand workforce

Some benefits of utilizing a WFM system are the ability to establish an on-demand workforce where managers can schedule the right employees at the right time according to volume fluctuations for a supply and demand match and cost savings by eliminating unnecessary labor expenses. The automation and flexibility of scheduling reduces the overall operating expenses allowing managers to redirect their efforts to areas of potential investment and growth. Ultimately, WFM systems let managers better organise their workforce, all from their laptop or mobile.

Mobility

Mobility is a key aspect of the rapidly advancing digital society. Regardless of their location, managers and employees alike want instant access to their organisation, and a WFM system provides these capabilities. Some of the benefits include faster response rates and turnaround of shift swaps, time off, hiring, policy and procedure management and the ability to conduct mobile meetings, all of which contribute to improve productivity and employee satisfaction.

Cloud management and Globalization of WFM system

A WFM system can be provided by a cloud vendor and supplied over the Internet. One of the benefits is that it is managed, maintained and regularly updated by the cloud vendor and requires very little technical expertize or effort from the customer. This makes WFM systems the leanest form of management for a retailer’s workforce.

As globalization and cloud technology stimulate and support the growth of each other, it is becoming a necessity that firms adopt some aspect of the cloud to remain competitive. Managers can organize their workforce from any time zone or location, which can be vital to stay in touch with their employees when travelling internationally to meet clients. Another benefit is the standardization of local rules and regulations within the operating structure.

Conclusion

As we enter an age dominated by technology and digitization, society has shifted many activities to online environments. With globalization comes new competition, suppliers and employees, and it is imperative that businesses implement WFM software to effectively manage this potentially global workforce to ultimately create a more efficient and lean organisational structure.