NRF: More Effective Store Management Via Technology
Effectively managing store associates is an age-old retail issue, but Aeropostale believes 21st century technology can be an answer to this challenge. A presentation at this week’s National Retail Federation convention in New York by Julie Sedlock, group VP store operations for Aeropostale, outlined their solution.
Aeropostale addresses a target audience of 15-25 year-olds and strives to create a very engaged workforce that can impart its enthusiasm to these shoppers. To do this, four out of five associates are under age 25. This group, the Milllenials, grew up with technology, but present some special challenges: they value autonomy, like to work when they want, and look for a balance between work and life.
Aeropostale’s solution is to upgrade technology, not only because that is one way to “reach” these associates, but it is vital that the employees be tech savvy if they are to relate to the shoppers.
Aeropostale implemented Dayforce, a technology driven workforce management and communications program. Integral to that is Dayforce Mobile, which puts communication literally in the palm of every associate’s as well as manager’s hand. The mobile associate can check:
- Availability – view and choose availability;
- Schedule – add time or transfer;
- Time away – review and submit requests;
- Time sheet – instant access.
From a manager’s point of view, it provides a high level of control in a way that Aeropostale believes is acceptable to Millenials. Dayforce Mobile also provides communication and information while not keeping the manager off the floor. The manager has a staff directory instantly available, can perform call-ins immediately, and can easily view and track tasks. In addition to staff management, managers also have instant access to sales and store performance data. Since it is likely that many associates already own a mobile, investment is minimized.
Aeropostale sees plenty of positives in this program including:
- More flexibility in operations and communications;
- Perception by associates as tech friendly;
- Immediacy of communications.
The chain also understands there are negatives including:
- More employees and more employee engagement can mean problems;
- There is the opportunity for a lot of feedback, which may be too much of a good thing.
Aeropostale believes the system, along with other management programs, will go a long way to making a low-wage workforce into powerful sales people on the floor.
Discussion Questions: Does a program such as Aeropostale’s improve associate engagement? Are there better ways of leveraging technology for store management?