How Staff Levels Impact Retail Operations

2 min read
Apr 3, 2018


The pressure to cut the cost of operations often means that staffing levels end up taking a dip. When budgets need to be reduced it is frequently the workforce that appears to be the easiest place to trim the fat.

However, this kind of cost cutting often leads to the issue of understaffing – and that can have a significant knock-on impact on the business, not just on culture and team atmosphere, but the bottom line too.

Understaffed stores lose sales

Statistics from across industries and a very broad range of different locations show that when there aren’t enough staff in the store to ensure that customers enjoy a smooth experience, the result is a drop in sales. Customer service has a big role to play in encouraging consumers continue to support bricks and mortar stores and if there simply aren’t enough staff to ensure that this is effectively delivered then retailers will lose out.

READ MORE: 6 Signs you Don't Have the Right Number of Staff

The era of digital purchasing demands efficient staffing

If there is one factor that differentiates a brick and mortar store from an online purchasing experience it’s the availability of helpful staff. It might be difficult to compete on other factors but, when it comes to getting instant assistance and not having to wait for someone to call you back or pick up your email, bricks and mortar stores win every time. However, for that to be a truly competitive advantage there needs to be some investment in ensuring accurate staffing levels.

How does understaffing affect operations?

  • Longer queues mean that customers may simply leave the store
  • Being unable to find someone to ask for help could mean customers go elsewhere
  • Understaffed stores often have an under pressure workforce who are unhappy and don’t present the best possible face to customers
  • Up-selling opportunities are lost where there aren’t enough staff available to highlight additional products to customers

The benefits of getting the balance of staffing right

A study by a lead researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management found that getting staffing levels right increased sales performance by 10%. There are also many other ways in which investing in achieving optimum staffing quickly pays off, including:

  • Achieving better customer service, which helps to drive customer loyalty and word of mouth recommendation, as well as increase repeat purchases.
  • Keeping staff happy and ensuring that a workforce is achieving sales and customer service without being overworked.
  • Avoiding wasted resources during downtime when fewer staff are required.
  • Improving ability to cope with spikes in trade and ensuring that even during peak times staffing schedules are supporting the wider operation.

Ensuring you've got the right staff levels in place can be a challenge for retailers of all sizes, which is why we've produced a comprehensive guide. Click below to request access to your free copy.

Download the Complete Guide to Staffing Your Retail Store
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