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Foot Traffic Analytics

Foot traffic metrics: What is your store's skeleton staff really costing you?

Written by Tony Loxton
Mar 31

Lower costs, increase sales – it’s (part of) the winning recipe for a successful business. One of the most obvious ways to do this is to cut back spending on staff. With wages in Australia some of the highest in the world, this can go a long way to bringing overall expenditure down.

Great, so you’ve reduced costs – but at what cost? A team of skeleton staff might save a few thousands dollars (or more) a month, but how will it affect the business overall? If you’re willing to save a few thousand dollars now, but pay for it with dissatisfied customers and lower sales in the long run, that’s your call. Read on to find out why there’s more to improving sales than reducing costs, and how the right analytics can help you get there.

It’s no longer as simple as scheduling more staff for when you think your store will be busy.

The logical way to determine how many skeleton staff you need is to identify the busiest times in your stores and plan the rosters around that. Weekends and the run up to Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter might require more staff than usual – or so you thought. This guess-and-pray tactic might have worked a few decades ago, but there’s no need to rely on guesswork when you have access to the technology and analytics that’ll give you accurate insight into what your store actually needs.

Store staff are brand ambassadors that need more than 10 minutes to serve customers.

Consumers are demanding more personalised and tailored retail experiences – online and offline. It’s no longer enough for staff to offer hurried advice, process a customer’s payment and shove the items into a bag. Staff are brand ambassadors that should be on hand to offer store visitors value-adding experiences – something extremely difficult to pull off operating with skeleton staff. A more accurate way to gauge how many staff you need is to start from the number of customers that come into a store per day. If it’s 10, and each staff member can serve two people an hour well, you’ll need five staff – not the one or two you thought you could get away with. It’ll never be as simple as this, but it illustrates the point.

Every staff member is a profit-generating opportunity.

Being understaffed means losing out on sales and repeat purchases if store visitors don’t receive the assistance they need. This is especially true within the luxury product sector (cars, jewellery, private banking) where customers expect a higher level of service. Instead, store managers should think in terms of the profits that staff can generate, instead of seeing their staff as an inconvenient expense. Staff are an investment and valuable resource. If you were a textiles manufacturer, you wouldn’t force out twice as many garments on second-hand machinery if you wanted to offer a superior product. The same mentality should apply to your staff, as they are the face of your product offering.

The right analytics will show you how to manage your skeleton staff.

This strategic approach to staffing needs to be underpinned by data gathered about your store. Stores with higher traffic numbers tend to require lower time per customer, such as 10 minutes per customer. If your store sees 100 customers an hour, one staff member can only serve six customers. You’d then need 17 staff on that shift. Blix Traffic for retail lets you gather in-depth information about the in-store interactions and traffic levels that influence how many skeleton staff you really need.

For example, a foot traffic counter and staff-to-customer ratios will help you spot times when you’re either under- or over-staffed, and how this affects profitability. With data on basket size and conversion rates, you can optimise your staff roster further. And once you’ve implemented a new roster system, you can gauge how it impacts customer experience, bounce rates, basket size and more.

For more on how to optimise your store and increase sales with the right data and insights, try our retail conversion calculator.

Learn more about Blix Traffic for retail

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