The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the retail sector especially hard. With multiple lockdowns eating into profits, many employers have been forced to make job cuts:
- The UK lost 190,000 retail jobs in the first year of the pandemic
- 18% of retail bosses expect to make further cuts when the furlough scheme ends in September
Prepare for a lot of sick days
Even if you have been lucky enough to avoid redundancies, reduced colleague numbers are still likely. The UK’s vaccine rollout has been highly successful in reducing the chances of hospitalisation or death from COVID-19. However, it seems unlikely that we will ever eliminate the virus altogether.
In a recent survey of 100 immunologists, 90% said that they expected COVID-19 to become endemic in the UK population. This means that it will continue to recirculate in a milder form, flaring up periodically like the flu. When this happens, illness-related absences are bound to increase.
Experts also believe that we are in for an especially bad flu season. 18 months of staying indoors means that immunity will be much lower than usual going into the winter. The government has warned that this year’s flu season may start earlier and be up to 50% more severe. Once again, you should expect to face an increase in colleague absence.
Operating with a reduced team will always be a challenge. With fewer colleagues on the shop floor, you need to be sure that everyone is working as efficiently as possible. This is where we can help. Here are three ways that VoCoVo can boost your productivity when numbers are tight:
1. Reduce walking distance
The average retail colleague takes 14,660 steps a day, making it one of the world’s most active professions. It may be great exercise, but all that walking uses up a lot of time.
Whether it’s crossing the store to find product information or visiting the stockroom to check on an order, walking is a major cause of inefficiency. Worse still, customers are often left waiting while colleagues walk to other parts of the store. Our research shows that shoppers have limited patience for these delays:
- 8% of shoppers say that waiting for colleagues to resolve a query is their top frustration
- 26% will leave the store is they are not served within five minutes
- 34% will leave the store if their query hasn’t been resolved in ten minutes
Our products are designed to eliminate unnecessary walking. Colleagues can check information and stock levels via their headsets without having to leave the customer’s side. This reduces daily walking distance by an average of 1.4km per colleague per day, allowing you to serve more customers in less time.
2. Improve task efficiency
With fewer colleagues on the shop floor, efficiency is vital. Our products eliminate the minor frustrations that cause tasks to take longer than necessary:
- Headsets allow colleagues to continue working while they answer customer queries
- Managers can provide on the job training via their headsets rather than removing colleagues from the shop floor for a formal session
- Managers and colleagues can set personalised reminders so that important tasks are not missed
By streamlining tasks, VoCoVo can save your team 105 minutes a day. This extra time can be used to complete additional jobs, making up for temporary personnel shortages.
3. Unman desks and counters
When numbers are limited, you can’t afford to have colleagues doing nothing. Click & Collect and customer service desks are an important part of the store, but they are only busy at certain times. This presents a dilemma. Putting a colleague on the desk at all times means that they will be unoccupied for much of the day, but leaving the desk unattended could mean losing a customer. This is where we can help.
Our call points can be placed on desks during quieter periods. Customers can press the call point to request assistance and colleagues can respond via their headsets. This allows you to get on with other tasks without worrying about missing a customer.
These are just three examples of the ways in which VoCoVo can help you to cope when resources are stretched thin. Talk to our team to find out more.