How to cut staffing cost without sacrificing in-store experience

Retailers face a double bind: increasing labor costs threaten the bottom line, while inconsistent in-store experiences tarnish the brand's reputation. With base pay hikes reaching 12.5%, the pressure is on to reassess where those funds are allocated.

But the million-dollar question remains – where and how can staffing costs be cut without harming the all-important in-store experience? The answer lies in the Front-of-House (FOH) checkout labor.

Start with Front-of-House checkout labor

When was the last time you evaluated the efficiency of your FOH? This area is often the most susceptible to overstaffing or underutilization. It's the first and last impression customers have. No wonder seeing long queues leads to 39% of shoppers abandoning their cart and 56% changing to another store with a better checkout experience.

In a post-COVID world, shoppers no longer adhere to predictable patterns. Their visits are sporadic, making traditional staffing methods ill-equipped to handle the fluctuating demand. The outcome? Retailers often find themselves:

  • Paying staff to merely standby.
  • Frustrated shoppers and stressed cashiers from long queues.
  • Inconsistent checkout experience within the same day.

However, dynamically staffing the FOH based on real-time data can harness the full potential of your existing workforce. Read more on this approach here.

A cashier glancing at his phone, visibly idle, with a word bubble indicating no customers to attend to.
A cashier glancing at his phone, visibly idle, with a word bubble indicating no customers to attend to.

Evaluate your optimal labor spending

Now that you’ve decided to focus on Front-of-House staffing budget, you should gather data from your teams to know when, where, and how to cut staffing cost.

Ask your store operations team:

  • How long are FOH staff waiting for shoppers (being idle) at checkout on an average day?
  • Do you know if FOH hires were actually staffed at checkout when they’re assigned to?
  • How do you determine front-of-house staffing budget per store?
  • How do you know which stores can cut FOH staffing budget or need more budget to realize sales potential?

Ask your store experience team:

  • What’s the current target checkout wait time per store to prevent shoppers from leaving empty handed?
  • At what point does wait time result in cart abandonment?
  • What strategies are in place to maintain a consistent checkout experience across all outlets?
  • How frequently do shoppers wait over 5 minutes in manned or self-checkout lines?
  • Can you quantify the revenue loss due to cart abandonments?

Ask your store managers:

  • Does your staff proactively come to checkout to prevent bottlenecks?
  • How many labor hours are spent monitoring the checkout area performance?
  • How fast are you resolving long checkout lines with wait time over 5 minutes?
  • Do you know exactly what to do to resolve long checkout lines with existing staff and infrastructure?
  • Do you know which staff to call for when stores are experiencing long checkout lines?
  • Do you know which sections/zones are busier or more idle at a point in time?
  • How do you monitor and track if the assigned staff is stationed at checkout?
  • What would you do to improve store operations if you didn’t have to observe checkout area at all times?

Only with comprehensive answers to these questions can you confidently realign your staffing spend without the risk of compromising sales or customer satisfaction.

How to get answers easily

Many retailers assume getting these answers is cumbersome due to the old technological setup they have in place. Traditional staff monitoring and tracking methods aren’t scalable and often miss the mark. A dedicated supervisor walking around the checkout area with a clipboard is not fit for identifying where to optimize labor spend.

Store checkout supervisor wondering his staff management with clipboard in hand
Store checkout supervisor wondering his staff management with clipboard in hand

Enter the Virtual Manager on Duty™. This solution provides actionable insights tailored for your store's unique needs. You can integrate Virtual Manager on Duty™ following these 3 steps:

  • Schedule a personalized demo with our team of AI specialists.
  • Seamlessly connect Virtual Manager on Duty™ to your stores.
  • Receive detailed answers to all your pressing operational questions.

Make the decision now to optimize your staffing budget without compromising on the quality of the in-store experience. Embrace the future with VMOD.

Talk to our AI experts

September 11, 2023
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