Guest Post: How to Use Data for Painless Store Staffing

A Note From Streamline: Today’s post comes from Springboard Retail. The team at Springboard have built an incredibly robust, customizable POS/Inventory Management tool designed to help independent retailers scale their business. We are honored to partner with them in our work to see independent retailers thrive.

Your staff is your biggest asset. Just having sales associates already elevates your business above most online retailers. That one-on-one in-person attention is something ecommerce brands are not going to be able to compete with, at least not anytime soon.

But staffing is also one of a retailer’s biggest expenses and one that you want to harness effectively, with enough coverage to provide a prime customer experience, but not too much that you see twiddling thumbs. How do you find that magic combination? Through data.

Just as you can’t sell effectively without a great staff, you can’t staff effectively without metrics. So here are three ways to collect and use data for store staffing.

Foot Traffic

Counting your foot traffic, either manually or with a counting device (which are more affordable than ever), will allow you to monitor trends over time and schedule staff more strategically.

You’ll know which days of the week are busiest versus which are slower, optimizing your headcount.

Think of it this way: Tuesdays and Wednesdays, both mid-weekdays, don’t sound like they’d necessarily bring in different crowds, but your data can show differently. Free Tuesday morning yoga classes in the park across the street may cater to your target customer, and it’s your traffic count that will reveal that. This should serve as a sign to have extra hands on deck than you might normally think to staff on any other weekday morning.

Look on an annual scale as well. Unless something has changed drastically in your neighborhood, we are creatures of habit—if your store saw an influx of traffic the first week of November last year, it’s likely you’ll see it again. Just be sure to match days of the week as opposed to actual dates when looking at last year’s numbers.

Or maybe your street has seen a recent change that’s having an effect on business: a new restaurant opened a few doors down, or a competing store recently closed. In those cases, it’s safer to consider data from more recent days and weeks. And the more you collect, the easier it will be to spot trends.

Get even more granular by looking at your traffic by hour. Reports will most likely show that Black Friday is one of your highest ticket days of the year, but you’ll be throwing away cash if you assume to have extra associates on the floor until close, when really your rush only lasts until 2pm.

Tickets by Day & Hour

Traffic data is important, but let’s not forget about tickets and sales. Daily and hourly sales reports fill in another puzzle piece of your staffing strategy, answering questions like what are my peak sales hours? Are they consistent across the week? Do I have enough team members to handle the volume?

These reports are especially important if your business uses “zones”: assigning team members to different roles in the store: greeter, fitting room, stock room, cash wrap, or sales floor. If tickets pick up in the evening, with shoppers on a post-work mission, have extra ringers on hand—nothing turns off a customer like a slow checkout process. If weekday mornings rarely see high sales, this might be a good time to have some of your better-merchandising staff on the clock, so they can focus on flipping the store with less shoppers needing assistance.

You can also use this data to measure the effectiveness of your promotional strategies—did Saturday’s gift with purchase advertisement resonate with customers, or were your tickets and UPT in line with other Saturdays? Did the Black Friday doorbuster get people in and shopping early, or were sales consistent throughout the day? This is the kind of data that will allow you to answer those questions and more.

Conversion Rate

Traffic through your doors is one thing, the number of tickets and gross sales is another but put them together and you get a very telling metric: conversion rate. The conversion rate is the proportion of visitors to your store who make a purchase. And what’s one of the biggest factors in turning a browser into a buyer? Your staff. I’ve seen amazing sales associates turn even the most unlikely visitors into frequent customers. Tracking your conversion rate, alongside sales and tickets by sales associate, will allow you to identify your top sellers and make sure they’re on hand for your highest sales plan and traffic days.

While it’s most efficient to use a traffic counting device that will display your conversion rate in real time on your dashboard, you can count traffic manually and then calculate conversion rate: Total Number of Sales / Total Traffic Count x 100 (within a set period of time).

Staff for your store traffic, not for an arbitrary store schedule. Your staff is one of your most important investments, so to use them to their full potential—and to avoid losing money by overstaffing—you need to have a clear picture of when your store sees the most action. That’s your time to maximize conversions, so make sure you have the coverage!

A Guest Post by Emily Fanning from Springboard Retail.

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