REPfirst™ Workforce Management Tool Helps Retailers Optimize Staff

Attract and Retain Quality Staff with Innovations in Retail Employee Engagement

According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, around 20 percent of US employees—or approximately 31 million people—work in the retail and hospitality sector. In McKinsey & Co.’s Frontline Retail Great Attrition and Attraction Report, lack of workplace flexibility was the top reason frontline retail workers cited for leading them to think about leaving their jobs.

Chart from McKinsey & Co detailing the top 5 reasons US retail employees are considering leaving their jobs in the next 3-6 months

According to Legion Technologies’ annual State of the Hourly Workforce Report, schedule flexibility has become a critical issue for both employees and managers—even more so than competitive pay—with 96% of hourly employees saying it is the number-one benefit motivating them to take a new job. In fact, 48% of managers stated that “not providing the schedule flexibility employees want” was the most challenging part of retaining hourly employees in the past six months, as opposed to 44% who said not offering competitive pay. Legion also found that, according to the 628 managers surveyed, the most difficult part of managing hourly employee schedules is matching employee preferences and availability with the needs of the business.  

Further complicating this challenge is the fact that too many companies rely on outdated scheduling methods: 20% of managers still use paper-based processes to create schedules, and 27% rely on Google Docs or similar software, both of which are time-consuming practices that are prone to error and underscore a serious need for automated scheduling.  

Legion also found that if employers were able to remove administrative burdens, managers would spend more time coaching and developing their teams (62%) and interacting with customers (30%).
And 28% of managers said managing call-outs and no-shows is the most time-consuming part of managing employee schedules. The top two things managers said employers could do to help them were to provide tools to make it easier to communicate with their teams and reduce time on administrative tasks, such as creating schedules. 

As the retail labor shortage persists, the gig economy grows, and we head into another holiday season, retailers who want to meet prospective employees where they are must innovate. This means engaging with them in ways that allow them to work the way they want and that fits into their lifestyle, to feel connected to a work community that’s invested in their success, and to gain control of their schedules, their employment, and their lives. It’s employee empowerment, and it can pay huge dividends in the form of retail associate retention and loyalty, heightened customer experience, and sales velocity.

Fabrice Haiat said in Forbes, “In the context of in-person retail, the perfect store is many things, but it’s always rooted in the people who operate it. This requires a focus on employee engagement, communication and collaboration, coupled with a tech-forward approach to employee empowerment…”

Who wouldn’t want to optimize their workforce and empower their employees? It’s a win-win-win-win (you get the idea).

REPfirst™ Empowers Retailers to Overcome Staffing and Operational Challenges

Retailers who prioritize employee empowerment stand not only to attract and retain quality staff but to deepen staff loyalty and avoid persistent turnover problems plaguing so many that drive customers away and hurt sales.

At MarketSource, we built REPfirst™, a proprietary employee empowerment and workforce management platform that:

  • We rely on to optimize staffing for our retail clients, involving more than 30,000 unique retail stores in the U.S.
  • Optimizes staff scheduling to better meet retail sales associate and client needs, decrease operational costs, and increase staff efficiency
  • Organizes, engages, and motivates retail associates through an immersive, connected experience
  • Elevates the employee experience by meeting their needs for flexible work schedules and additional shifts
  • Provides retail associates with essential sales, product, service, brand, and retail store policies training to both onboard successfully and to expand their skills, certifications, work opportunities, and effectiveness
  • Gives brand and retail managers greater visibility into and comfort with their staffing situation
  • Delivers the flexible benefits of the gig-economy while maintaining the security, stability, and benefits employees count on and are used to receiving from a traditional employee model

Retail Employee Engagement That Brings Brands to Life

REPfirst honors and marries the needs of both retail associates and retailers so all parties win, including your customers. It’s just part of the way we help our customers achieve their goals and bring brands to life.

Retail associates access REPfirst through a mobile app to:

  • Manage their shifts:
    • Indicate their availability to work
    • Request time off
    • View their schedule a few weeks in advance
    • Calculate their hours
    • Clock in/out
    • Submit timecards
  • Chat with other associates
    • Share what they’re seeing in their stores
    • Communicate urgent messages
    • Collaborate/connect with their peers
  • Receive push notifications regarding urgent issues or brand communications (they can’t proceed in the app until they dismiss the notification), such as:
    • Brand-sanctioned social content for reps to share/post
    • Product or brand updates
    • Anything that would prevent us from serving the client, such as problems with store displays or brand inconsistencies
  • For those responsible for visiting multiple stores, use the map view of their schedule to plan their route
  • Complete call reports (if needed)
  • Access online training for onboarding and skill expansion (mandatory or self-guided)
  • Create and respond to surveys to:
    • Share on-the-ground feedback on what they’re seeing in stores (I.e., “We heard a competitor is putting a new product on display – please confirm.”)
    • Provide insights that could improve the program
  • Receive corporate news and updates, strengthening their connection to the core team
  • Serve as true brand ambassadors

With REPfirst, MarketSource can easily schedule employees (who want them) for more shifts, so they don’t have to resort to seeking a second job. And using their mobile devices, managers can see where employees are assigned for each shift and schedule and move them as needed. With retailer approval, employees also can swap shifts in the app without manager intervention.

REPfirst empowers retail associates from the moment they log in:

Home Screen
REPfirst app screenshot showing associate dashboard
Retail Associate
REPfirst app screeshot showing the at-a-glance schedule feature
REPfirst app screenshot showing the clock-in and clock-out screen
Shift Clock-in/Out
REPfirst app screenshot showing the store visit map feature
Store Visit

REPfirst Saved Client Millions in Potential Lost Revenue

Real-time communication between retail locations like REPfirst enables can make the difference between significant losses and sales velocity. In one instance, during a standard weekly visit to our client (a mobile phone manufacturer), a MarketSource retail associate discovered the client’s product had been removed from the wireless carrier’s sales floor, diminishing their chances for sales for every hour their product was off the retailer’s floor. The retail associate immediately notified our sales support team, who posted an urgent, real-time message on REPfirst, alerting the field reps and program manager of the discrepancy and the possibility of a national issue. The field team quickly discovered that the product had been removed from the sales floor at all locations, potentially costing the client millions of dollars in lost revenue. Our team was able to rectify the problem within 24 hours.

A Tech-Forward Approach to Seasonal Retail Sales Associate Staffing

Workforce optimization is essential for retailers with seasonal staffing needs. By leveraging our existing employees through the workforce optimization that REPfirst allows, we can recruit fewer people and meet client demands during peak seasons faster. We’re also able to optimize scheduling so we can better meet our clients’ needs, decrease our operational costs, and increase our employee engagement and retention. Doing this allows us to drive greater seasonal sales and revenue for our clients than they could achieve otherwise.

Ready to talk?

Who wouldn’t want to optimize their workforce and empower their employees? It’s a win-win-win-win (you get the idea).

Author: Karen Salamone

Author: Karen Salamone

Karen is Head of Marketing for MarketSource. She is a transformational B2B and B2B2C leader with a history of building marketing organizations, content teams, and demand generation centers of excellence from the ground up. She is recognized for delivering meaningful insights and fresh approaches and for earning best-in-class content, design, and multi-media awards.

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