By Mario Toneguzzi
With labour optimization a constant challenge in the retail world, new technology by Halo Metrics is offering retailers an efficient - and cost effective - way to manage their staff in stores.
The company, which launched Ripple Metrics early last year, uses a proprietary combination of sensors and algorithms which anonymously and accurately counts and tracks visitor movement within a store.
Ravinder Sangha, marketing manager of Halo Metrics, says the result is an extremely accurate suite of visitor traffic metrics that include customer presence, return frequency, stay time as well as the ability to map out the customer journey through a store, all of which is easily accessible through a cloud based dashboard.
Now that technology, with its highly-accurate traffic count, can help retailers in the area of scheduling their staff in each store, said Sangha.
“We’re actually starting to see some great results when customers (retailers) start using this data for optimizing their scheduling and their labour,” he said.
“Something very, very important is that we are able to give the retailer the tools to help them schedule the right staff at the right time doing the right tasks. That’s a key thing to understand. First of all, I think we’re all aware that labour costs are going up throughout the country because of minimum wage and other things putting a pressure on labour costs.”
Sangha said the technology allows retailers the ability to re-allocate that labour in a way that they can schedule their staff during peak traffic times.
“The results have been pretty incredible. For example, we have customers who have been relying on other methods to gauge traffic in their stores. They might be using POS. They might be using other technologies,” said Sangha.
“If they’re using POS, they’re at a fairly significant disadvantage because traffic in the store is not always reflected by transaction counts at the POS. We actually had an example of that where a customer had a measurable difference between the two in terms of traffic and transaction counts.”
Sangha said Ripple Metrics’ reports can get very granular, getting traffic counts down to 15-minute increments throughout a day and also track that traffic throughout different departments.
“Certain things unfolded as we shared this with the customer. They knew certain days were busier but they didn’t realize how busier they were,” he said. “We were able to tell them their typical peak hours throughout the week. And once they saw that they started to take that into account and started using the system for scheduling.
“The biggest thing for them is once they realized when their peak times were, and peak days of the week were, they right away were able to schedule their staff appropriately.”
The data enables retailers to have their staff focused on selling during peak times instead of putting away stock or taking breaks. If they are going to be taking breaks during peak times, they can determine appropriate coverage for that.
By determining traffic counts right down to individual departments within a retail store, this too can ensure the right amount of staffing is in place to deal with shoppers. Drilling down further, the technology could help staff certain departments to make sure employees with specific knowledge and expertise of certain products are available when customers are most likely coming to the store for those products.
“At the end of the day, they’re using this information and they’re scheduling staff to be in the right place, at the right time doing the right tasks. And what we’ve seen is an immediate lift in sales,” said Sangha. “And that lift in sales is attributed directly to when they started scheduling based on actual traffic coming into the store.”
The technology takes the matter of scheduling staff down to a science.
“It fully opens your eyes because we’re also tracking stay time in the store overall and also within the departments. We’re tracking new customers versus returning customers,” he said. “We’re also tracking marketing and promotional events as well.”
Visit www.ripplemetrics.com to learn more.
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Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: email@example.com.