Using AI workforce tools can boost margins, inspire staff, satisfy shoppers

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In an era when customers are demanding more personalised interaction and service from retail staff, there is no longer any room for inefficiencies in in-store execution. 

As Zebra Technologies’ downloadable e-book Lift Productivity and Improve Execution for the Next-Gen Workforce explains, today’s customers want retailers’ workforces to pick their goods, pack them, ship them, deliver them and return them – all without diminishing in-store service.

If tasks aren’t completed on time in a prioritised, efficient manner, omnichannel services can run late, customers receive lacklustre service, and employees can become frustrated at their inability to effectively complete their work. 

That’s where intelligent tools can ease team members’ burdens of juggling faster deadlines and escalating service demands. With real-time task management and peer-to-peer communication solutions, you can deliver the speed, power and ease your workforce needs to lift productivity and service.

Better still, such an approach can boost the bottom line: Zebra’s research shows that retailers using intelligent labour forecasting to optimise staffing to customer traffic can boost their sales margin by up to 2 per cent. 

Zebra Workcloud offers solutions to help retail workforces run smarter and more efficiently – and ensure employees are inspired, satisfied and committed. 

“We can help retailers unlock the potential of their workforce, inventory, time and funding,” explains Vamshi Gudavalli, senior solutions consultant at Zebra.

“Zebra Workcloud is a purpose-built suite of enterprise applications designed specifically for the front-line worker to better optimise labour decisions, simplify and streamline communication and improve inventory management.”

By leveraging advanced forecasting to increase front-line engagement, Zebra Workcloud can boost output and satisfy customers. That’s invaluable for retail brands given that research from Zippia shows that companies that promote collaboration and communication at work can enjoy a 50 per cent reduction in staff turnover. 

Zebra’s Workcloud is split into three solutions, (each formerly branded Reflexis). 

Zebra Workcloud Scheduling allows companies to schedule smarter by aligning customer traffic patterns and employee availability preferences, skills and certifications, thus optimising customer service execution. 

Using AI, Workcloud Scheduling can analyse trading patterns, taking into account influences such as weather, local events and other factors influencing customer traffic, order volumes and product preferences. 

Using the scheduling solution, employees can ensure the right staff are scheduled where they need to be when they need to be at the same time as delivering staff a more satisfying work-life balance, and monitoring and managing workforce costs. AI also helps share labour resources across locations, departments and roles within the organisation. 

“By giving your associates more control over their schedules, you can speed up the execution of tasks by ensuring your employees are focusing on what’s most important and then you can dynamically adjust plans in real-time if unexpected challenges arise,” says Gudavalli.

Zebra Workcloud Timekeeping tracks staff members’ time, attendance and compliance, making it easier to monitor and manage labour costs. Employee safety is prioritised with contactless clocking in and out. Using Workcloud Timekeeping, a retailer can optimise the productivity of staff and maintain accurate attendance records – all with real-time visibility. 

Zebra Workcloud Task Management helps retailers simplify work and streamline the execution of tasks through the automation of task assignments to ensure balanced workloads. 

“Using AI, Workcloud Task Management can produce solutions as elastic as your customers’ demands, aligning tasks to real-time variables and data from across your entire enterprise,” explains Gudavalli. 

This improves communication and boosts productivity by increasing the rates of task completion. The solution offers management real-time visibility of the status of all tasks, including completion rates. 

Meanwhile, Zebra Workcloud Communication (formerly known as Workforce Connect) opens the way for faster and easier front-line communication and collaboration. 

“You can connect with teams and managers at the push of a button, get answers to customer questions, ask for assistance and securely broadcast messages all on the one platform,” explains Gudavalli. 

“By promoting effective teamwork and removing collaboration barriers, you empower your staff to work together harmoniously and unlock your store’s full potential.”