How retail teams are preparing for uncertainty this Autumn

Retailers could be in for a difficult Autumn, so good preparation is vital.

Article by Martyn Jones | 13th October 2021

Over the last 18 months. retailers have grown used to uncertainty. While the days of last minute lockdowns and ever-changing safety measures have hopefully passed, managers are now facing a new problem: colleague absences. 

The UK’s vaccine rollout has been one of the most successful in the world, causing a significant drop in both deaths and hospitalisations from COVID-19. But vaccines have been less effective in preventing transmission, and case numbers have remained relatively high. As the weather cools and people spend more time indoors, numbers are likely to increase further. 

To make matters worse, experts believe that the UK is in for a bumper winter flu season. Multiple lockdowns have caused immunity levels to plummet, meaning that this year’s flu season could be 50% more severe. All in all, you should expect to see an increase in sick days this autumn. 

While the disruption may turn out to be minimal, it never hurts to be prepared. Our system helps colleagues to make the most of their time, so that you can cope when numbers are tight. 


Make every second count

Running a store with a skeleton crew is far from ideal, but it’s not impossible. The key is to make sure that every colleague is making the most of their time. Our products are designed for efficiency, so that you can do more with less:

  • Headsets allow colleagues to find information and answer customer queries without leaving their position. This can save each colleague 1.4km a day in unnecessary walking. 
  • Headsets are hands-free, so colleagues can keep working while answering customer queries. This multitasking can save your team 105 minutes a day.
  • Headsets allow you to authorise self-checkout purchases from anywhere in sight of the till. A single colleague can oversee multiple SCOs without having to constantly walk between them. 


Train new colleagues on the job

Seasonal hires are a big part of preparing for Christmas. If illness reduces colleague numbers this Autumn, you may struggle to find the time to train new recruits. Our system allows you to provide effective training without removing experienced colleagues from the shop floor:

  • Headsets allow you to train new colleagues on the job. Colleagues can perform their usual tasks while simultaneously explaining them to new hires. Research shows that this kind of hands-on training can speed up the onboarding process by 87%. 
  • Our conference feature allows you to set up dedicated channels for specific areas of knowledge. If a newer colleague is struggling with a particular task, they can tune into the relevant conference and ask an expert. 
  • Managers can send personalised voice reminders to colleagues via their headsets. This allows you to give new hires a nudge in the right direction without making them feel pressured. 

Find out more about training with VoCoVo: 


Streamline Click & Collect

Click & Collect became hugely popular in 2020 as customers used it to minimise time spent in stores. If case numbers rise this winter, shoppers may turn to the service once again. Even if numbers remain steady,  Click & Collect is likely to be in high demand:

Click & Collect may be convenient for customers, but it can be challenging for colleagues. Click & Collect desks are usually separate from the checkouts, meaning that the same colleagues cannot cover both areas. 

This presents a dilemma for managers. Putting a colleague on the Click & Collect desk all day means taking someone off the floor. This is a lot to ask, especially if colleagues are absent due to illness. On the other hand, leaving the desk unmanned means that you run the risk of missing a customer. Luckily, we have the perfect solution:

  • Call points can be placed on Click & Collect desks in place of a colleague
  • Customers can press the call point to speak to a colleague immediately
  • Colleagues can use their headset to check if an order has arrived without having to walk to the stockroom

Unmanning desks in this way allows colleagues to perform other tasks at times when there are fewer customers. This flexibility is the key to coping with a reduced team. Better still, unmanning a single counter can save you as much as £594 per week

This Autumn will be challenging, but we’ll get through it together. Get in touch today to get started. 



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