Not All Retail AI Tools Are Created Equal: How Intelligent Automation Can Push Retailers Past the Competition
As the retail market gets more competitive, retailers are looking to new technologies — like artificial intelligence — to help grow their businesses. The global AI market size in retail is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) exceeding 23.9 percent from 2022 to 2030. AI-driven tools such as automated inventory-taking and smart self-checkout solutions that prevent shoplifting can enhance retail operations and efficiency. However, these tools don’t address some of the most critical challenges retailers face: inefficient operations, and low employee and customer satisfaction.
The answer to this? An AI-powered workforce management platform (WFM) that delivers intelligent automation to maximize labor efficiency and employee engagement simultaneously.
Optimizing Labor Operations
A strong labor optimization strategy empowers organizations to work smarter and allocate the right resources at the right time and place, which boosts productivity and ensures customer demand is met.
To achieve this, businesses must have a complete and accurate picture of their demand in the first place. Demand forecasting is one of the most crucial pillars of labor optimization since it allows companies to determine when demand will fluctuate and how external pressures, such as weather or holidays, may impact predictions.
This is where modern workforce management steps in. The latest AI-powered WFM platforms automatically ingest and analyze thousands of data points in real time, delivering continuously updated algorithms to paint the most accurate portrait of demand. By matching these forecasts with labor availability, automatically, businesses can focus more on interacting with customers and their teams.
The Trickle-Down Effect on Manager, Employee and Customer Experiences
On average, managers spend 20 percent of their time manually creating employee schedules — translating to a full day’s work in a 40-hour workweek. Using WFM solutions that deliver intelligent automation to create optimized schedules can slash this by 50 percent, freeing up valuable time that managers can instead spend on more productive, meaningful tasks, such as engaging with customers to further build their brand loyalty.
Not only does automated scheduling free up time for managers to engage with customers, but it also allows them to focus on employee onboarding and training — resulting in better-trained, happier employees and even happier customers.
AI-driven WFM platforms also take an employee’s personal preferences for work schedules into consideration. According to Legion Technologies’ research, the No. 1 benefit hourly employees want, outside of higher pay, is flexibility in their schedules. By giving employees mobile access to their schedules, retailers can enable them to easily swap or pick up shifts as needed. With this ability, employees can more effectively manage their work-life balance, while feeling more empowered through schedule ownership.
When utilized correctly, WFM solutions that deliver intelligent automation can have immense benefits for retailers. Instead of addressing one pain point, retailers can streamline labor operations, improve the customer experience, and empower their workforce to enhance employee satisfaction.
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Michael Spataro is the chief customer officer at Legion. He has 30+ years of retail WFM, store operations, and technology experience. He spent 16 years leading the Retail and Hospitality Services Practice Group at Kronos. His passion for Retail WFM is rooted in the ten years he was Director of Store Technologies at Gap Inc. Previously, Michael led the Kronos Services Group at Axium. After being a customer, vendor, and consultant, he has a unique vantage point, which makes him a trusted partner when showing retailers how they can use Legion WFM to optimize labor efficiencies and empower frontline employees.