As a retailer, you already recognize the value of brand loyalty. After all, it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one1. Add the fact that current customers spend 67% more every time they make a purchase2, and it’s no wonder more retailers are taking a closer look at the value of brand loyalty.
But there’s one crucial element that’s often overlooked: your in-store retail employees. Transactions within brick and mortar stores account for 90% of retail sales3. So when it comes to increasing brand loyalty, your store employees are your most impactful resource. Everything they do — from laying out merchandise to interacting with customers — is an opportunity to build your brand.
Brand Loyalty Starts With Your Employees
Customer devotion isn’t just driven by the products you sell or the experiences you offer. Brand loyalty starts with your employees. Studies have shown that 92% of customers trust brand advocates more than other forms advertising4, and messaging shared by employees is re-shared 24 times more often compared to content shared by brands5. But employees don’t become advocates just because they work for us. It’s a relationship that has to be nurtured, and how you schedule your retail employees makes a difference to their sense of loyalty to the company, particularly among hourly workers.
How Retailers Create Happy Employees
Think about what drives your hourly retail employees. Pay. Flexibility. Growth. Recognition. All are essential components for transforming your employees into brand advocates. Something as fundamental as how you schedule your workforce makes a big difference to your sales conversions and customer retention. Consider how your approach to scheduling hourly workers can help you:
- Enable employee autonomy – Your retail employees want to feel in control of their schedules and their careers. Many are working full time while also going to school or raising a family. Some even have multiple jobs. Giving them the ability to swap shifts with a colleague right from their smartphone means freedom and flexibility. And for those looking to increase their income, picking up more shifts means earning more cash. This kind of autonomy is an often overlooked component in creating loyal brand advocates.
- Facilitate deeper employee engagement – There’s nothing worse for your retail employees than working a slow shift. What they want is the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way. Using accurate forecasting data to schedule employees is key to making sure you have enough staff to meet customer demand. And that’s an essential component to delivering world-class customer service in any high-touch retail environment.
- Improve manager-employee communication – How many times have scenarios like these played out in your stores? Michelle needs the day off next Tuesday to take her mom to a doctor’s appointment. She mentioned it to her manager last week in the break room, and he forgot. Darren just received his class schedule for next semester, and his availability has flipped. Instead of mornings, he now needs to work evening shifts. Enabling your employees to communicate these kinds of requests via their mobile devices improves communication and makes it easy for employees to stay engaged.
- Increase productivity – There’s no shortage of tasks for your retail employees to complete in a given shift, from receiving shipments to swapping out displays. With the right scheduling solution, you can make sure you always have enough employees on hand for tasks that require heavy lifting. And with the ability to add task management, you can ensure staff are using their time to perform the tasks that will have the biggest impact on sales.
- Retain top performers – The turnover rate in retail is 35%, and retail organizations spend a total of $19 billion per year to hire and train new staff6. Offering consistent, predictable schedules can help you retain your top performers because it gives them greater work-life balance. As a result, they’re happier than employees without predictable schedules, and they come to work better prepared to offer your customers the kind of in-store experience that facilitates brand loyalty.
- Comply with fair scheduling laws – We continue to see an increase in predictive scheduling laws. For example, New York, Seattle, and San Francisco all recently passed legislation. And while the specifics vary from one jurisdiction to the next, some of the themes we’re seeing include publishing schedules 14 days in advance and giving employees a fair amount of notice when their schedules change. This makes accurate demand forecasting even more essential, because as these fair scheduling laws expand to more cities and states, store managers won’t have the option of calling in additional workers on the spot.
Balancing Employee Needs And Business Needs
Balancing your employees’ needs with your business goals doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. Retailers can, and should, do both. Taking a smart approach to scheduling your in-store workforce will improve the work-life balance of your employees and create happier, more satisfied workers. As a result, they’ll stay in their jobs longer, deliver better customer service and drive higher conversion rates. It’s about looking after those who look after your customers. That’s the secret to fostering brand loyalty and customer retention.
Mike Morini is the CEO of WorkForce Software, a leading provider of cloud-based workforce management solutions for global enterprise and mid-sized organizations. The company’s WorkForce Suite empowers employees and managers to digitize time and labor processes, optimize demand-driven scheduling, simplify absence management and enable strategic business insight. Prior to joining WorkForce Software, Morini previously held CEO and COO positions at SAP, Aria Systems, OutlookSoft, InterWorld, and Verbind.
1 Saleh, Khalid. “Customer Acquisition vs. Retention Costs – Statistics and Trends.” Invesp. https://www.invespcro.com/blog/customer-acquisition-retention/.
2 Martin Zwilling, “Customer Experience Controls Business Growth Today.” Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/martinzwilling/2013/10/11/customer-experience-controls-business-growth-today/#20fb871f1460.
3 “The Connected Workforce: The Key to Retail Success.” WorkForce Software. https://www.workforcesoftware.com/infographic/keys-to-successful-retail-workforce-management/.
4 Forbes Advertising Council. “Want to Create Real Brand Advocates? Try These 17 Strategies.” Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2017/11/02/want-to-create-real-brand-advocates-try-these-17-strategies/#73adf96a13c9.
5 Seery, Sharon. “Invest in the Voice that People Trust [Part One].” Symphony Talent. https://resources.symphonytalent.com/blog/invest-in-the-voice-that-people-trust-part-one.
6 “The Connected Workforce: The Key to Retail Success.” WorkForce Software. https://www.workforcesoftware.com/infographic/keys-to-successful-retail-workforce-management/.