hen it comes to scheduling workers, white-boards and punch clocks are giving way to
screens and the cloud.
One of the most challenging aspects of
grocery operations is managing the hourly workforce.
Perhaps the most daunting task is setting and keeping
track of schedules while balancing the store’s needs with
that of employees.
This used to be done with paper, pens, bulletin boards,
markers, stamps and cards. But like many business functions, it’s now done digitally—which opens up a range of
new possibilities in acquiring, sharing and using data.
“Particularly among independent grocers, many are
;nding that juggling Excel spreadsheets and sticky notes
and ;elding constant phone calls about the schedule is
consuming too much valuable time,” says Colin Clarke,
“A cloud-based schedule that all employees can view
anytime, anywhere can signi;cantly reduce the amount
of time managers spend on scheduling, so they can better
direct their time to managing store operations,” he says.
As grocery becomes more competitive, service
becomes more important, especially for grocers who
want to o;er a unique shopping experience. No matter
what a store has to o;er, if shoppers have to wait too long
for it, the experience will be ruined.
“It’s not just about having somebody at the cash register to check you out, or just about ensuring that your Fruity
Pebbles are on the shelf,” says Jennifer Johnson, director
of retail practice group for Kronos, a provider of comprehensive labor-related software. “It’s all about the experience that you’re going to get while you’re in the store that’s
going to make you want to come back for more.”
Scheduling for ‘Little Stores’
Labor scheduling for grocery stores has to be calibrated to
a unique degree among retail, for the simple reason that
a grocery store has many departments, and the average
shopper will usually visit several of them during each trip.
In a sense, the bakery, deli, meat and other departments
are their own little stores, with their own skill sets and
tra;c ;ow patterns.
“In terms of the service departments generally, some
groceries refer to it as the walls of their store, where you’ve
got the bakery and the deli and the meat departments
and so forth,” says Larry Leibach, area product leader for
ADP, a leading provider of payroll and other HR software.
“Those are the ones you want to make sure are sta;ed to
customer demand. That’s where grocers have grown this
solution. They’re not just looking at cashiering anymore;
they’re actually going wall to wall with the solution.”
Some grocers have systems generate schedules auto-
matically based on these metrics, but others prefer to
do it manually. One of the latter is New Seasons Market,
based in Portland, Ore., with ;; stores in Oregon, Wash-
ington and Northern California. New Seasons uses the
Workforce Central suite from Kronos ;which has been
superseded by Kronos’ Workforce Dimensions, released
“We have our daily sales broken down hourly—includ-
ing number of sales per hour and transactions per hour—
from our POS that goes directly into our forecasting tool,”
says Richard Blandini, senior IT specialist for the retailer.
“Those things all get plugged in and it pops up on a dash-
board. People can take a look at what planned hours are
going to be and … the forecasted amount of business, and
see where the di;erences are between the two.”
Scheduling Gets Smart
Specialized software balances what the store needs with
what workers want to create optimal work schedules.
By Pan Demetrakakes
Hours the average
or o;ce manager
spends every week
making an employee
Operations & Supply Chain