SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Raley's here just completed rolling out electronic labor-scheduling systems to all 65 of its stores, SN has learned.
The new systems are designed to improve service by tailoring staff scheduling to customer volume at the front end. The software, which uses data from point-of-sale terminals, also pares the amount of time a store manager spends scheduling his staff from one day to one hour.
Although in existence since the mid-1980s, the electronic scheduling systems are just now gaining market share in conjunction with an industry trend of computerizing work processes. One industry source estimates that as many as 40% of supermarket chains are now using electronic labor scheduling. Two years ago, the figure was about half that.
"We did it for better customer service. It enables you to react to business trends week to week, rather than month to month," said Jimmie Torres, Raley's human resources manager. "Our main focus was to use the help we have. Basically, it helps you be aware of where your needs are more accurately than if you guessed on your own.
"If you can give better customer service, that's about the best payback you can have. Our main focus was to use the help we have," Torres said.
System software varies according to vendor. Raley's system, which uses software supplied by Cambridge, Mass.-based Information Marketing Business, collects historical sales at the check stands, including data on volume, items and customer counts. The data is combined with other information, including state labor laws and Raley's scheduling policies. The result is a forecast of future sales in half-hour increments correlated to scheduling needs.
Using the information, managers
can change traditional work shifts, putting cashiers on during optimal hours to better handle checkstands when they are crowded.
"We are using about the same number of hours, just moving them around. Before a manager could get in a rut of always having a certain amount of set scheduling shifts, such as 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. or 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.," said Torres. "But this program may show you where you don't need three checkers from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.. It may move them around to show you need one at 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m. or 10:30 a.m.
"The feedback from managers is that they do feel they are being able to cover business changes and their needs more efficiently than they were before," said Torres.
Raley's anticipates within a year expanding use of electronic labor scheduling to other areas of in-store operations, including the meat, produce, deli and bakery departments.