Magazine Article | April 19, 2007

Are Store Managers Embracing WFM?

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

The State Of The Store Manager report puts a spotlight on store-level WFM (workforce management).

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, May 2007

The State Of The Store Manager report (produced in conjunction with IHL Consulting Group and sponsored by Wincor Nixdorf and Alpha Bay) brings encouraging news for those of us concerned about store-level technology execution. We polled retail store managers on a variety of topics including their workloads, perceptions of specific technologies, and communication with corporate management. Our findings indicated an improvement in store managers' attitudes about the latter. It also revealed that, in general, store managers have a better perception of technology's role in retailing success than they did last year.

Labor Woes Cause Store Manager Stress
There remains, however, some disparity between store managers' acceptance of certain technologies and those technologies' actual deployment. Perhaps most alarming is that only 33% of our respondents indicated the use of automated labor scheduling. At the same time, 45% consider it valuable, and the remainder of the sample is unsure. As lead IHL analyst Jerry Sheldon indicates in his report, the payback associated with WFM software is widely accepted by retail executives. The fact that 67% of our sample still manage schedule-building by hand indicates ample opportunity for labor optimization in retail. If you're a skeptic like me, you're wondering what percentage of our sample work for tier-three retailers. Our average respondent manages a store that generates $7 million in annual revenue. For perspective, this average store size equates to a $1.5 billion 200-store chain.

The lack of labor scheduling automation may likely be contributing to another significant source of store manager stress. The well-documented store-level turnover issue in retail keeps store managers up at night, and poor scheduling practices can only add to the problem. A solid 78% of those polled indicate that it's difficult to find good employees, and 66% say it's tough to retain them once they're hired. Sheldon observes that because today's automated WFM systems handle the schedule requests of employees as input, these systems may also assist with employee retention. He surmises that employees managed using technology-driven WFM systems will be far less likely to leave a store's employ due to scheduling conflicts.

The State Of The Store Manager report takes a much deeper dive into the issues store managers face and the impact those issues have on store-level technology execution. Look for the report at the ERI eXchange show in June, or go to to request an exclusive advance electronic copy. Meanwhile, make sure you give your store managers some credit for a job well done.