Enhancing the Back-to-School Shopping Experience with Staffing Adjustments

Whether you are a staffing company or a retailer, this back-to-school season is the opportunity to outpace competition and maximize profit by improving and streamlining the management of flexible workforces.

Back-to-school is the retail industry’s second largest shopping season and spending for families with children in elementary through high school is expected to hit $29.5 billion over the next few weeks. The National Retail Federation reports that more than 57% of consumers plan to do some of their back-to-school shopping in a department store and nearly 46% will shop online.

That is a huge opportunity for retailers. But it also poses a significant challenge to create a positive shopping experience, both in-store and online.

Extra staff goes a long way for consumers

A vast majority of parents — 91% — consider back-to-school shopping stressful, according to a recent survey by RetailMeNot, with three in five parents crediting their stress to in-store issues like not being able to find what they need and battling crowds. They’re also worrying about finding the time to finish all their shopping and getting the best supplies for their children.

Walmart is one of several retailers working toward making back-to-school shopping a little easier and less stressful for parents. The chain is adding more employees, called “Back-to-School Helpers,” in checkout areas to keep lines moving — a version of its “Holiday Helpers” program that was rolled out last year. Parents can also visit walmart.com/classroomsupplies, a site compiling the school supplies list from more than a million classrooms across the country.

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Target is also getting in on the game. This year, the company is testing “Shop Now, Pickup Later” at six universities — a new service aiming to take advantage of the $54.1-billion back-to-college shopping season. Students can order items from a curated list and pick them up during move-in at a designated location on or near campus, eliminating the logistical anxiety over hauling items from home or a store. Target is also experimenting with on-campus pop-up shops and offering complimentary shuttles from campus to nearby locations.

Customer perks lead to new staffing needs

From Walmart’s “Back-to-School Helpers” to Target’s campus pop-up shops, innovative services like these are creating new needs for retailers to ensure perfect execution. Brands are adding new in-store positions to help ensure a seamless customer experience. From the sleek merchandise displays to the friendly delivery service, new in-store roles are being created to keep shoppers happy and coming back.

As back-to-school shopping peaks this month, most retailers will turn to hiring extra and on-demand staff, either directly or with the help of a staffing partner, to help alleviate customers’ stress and deliver a more enjoyable shopping experience. At Natural Insight, our clients utilize our proprietary technology to manage their workforce, including on-demand workers, scheduling, timesheets, task management and more.

By streamlining some of the time-consuming, but critical, administrative tasks, we’re helping our clients focus on what’s important — improving the customer experience. And through our data collection and analytics software, retailers and their partners can gain key insights about in-store execution, competition data, and in-store foot-traffic to improve their strategy for the upcoming holiday season.

MORE: The Retail Industry: What the Headlines are Missing

Stefan Midford

Stefan Midford
Stefan Midford is president and CEO of Natural Insight and has more than 30 years of experience in information technology, operations and workforce management.

Stefan Midford

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