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Transforming Retail: Innovative and Intelligent Approaches to Workforce Management

Michael Spataro
Michael Spataro is chief customer officer at Legion

Automation and AI-driven technologies are transforming retail workforce management practices across the board. By turning to intelligent automation, businesses can make more informed decisions that cascade through the organization, touching on everything from demand forecasting to improved labor optimization, to fine-tuned and balanced schedules that align with business goals.

Additionally, AI can help enhance the employee experience by providing pinpointed recommendations, offering guidance, and identifying potential weak points before they evolve into greater problems. In this exclusive Q&A, Legion’s chief customer officer, Michael Spataro, outlines how these technologies are transforming workforce management, enabling retailers to make smarter, data-driven decisions and take swifter strides toward their bigger business goals.  

RIS: How is AI changing the game for WFM? 

Michael Spataro: AI is transforming workforce management across the spectrum from demand forecasting, labor optimization, optimized schedules, and the employee experience. AI can process hundreds of thousands of data points instantaneously, and decisions based on data versus gut feel or pure judgment can lead to consistently better results. According to a recent Gartner report, solutions based on AI-native architectures can deliver far superior results than traditional solutions. 

RIS: How is AI impacting retailers' ability to forecast demand?

Spataro: AI has profoundly impacted retailers' ability to precisely forecast demand across all customer touchpoints. With Legion Technologies' mature data science, retailers can capture more complex patterns over extended periods and automatically synthesize thousands of internal and external data points, such as local events and weather, to precisely predict demand by item and channel every 15 minutes. These technologies continuously learn from new data, so forecasts continue to improve and adapt to changing business conditions.

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RIS: How is AI impacting retailers’ employee scheduling practices?
Spataro: Retailers are also using AI to automatically create optimized employee schedules. In a recent survey, more than 70% of managers said matching business needs with employee skills and preferences was the most challenging part of creating and maintaining an employee schedule. With AI-powered scheduling from Legion, managers can instantly generate schedules that match business needs, including labor budgets, compliance requirements, and staffing policies, with employees' skills and preferences more than 96% of the time. These automated scheduling technologies automatically learn from managers' edits and employee preferences, so schedules continuously improve. 

RIS: How is Intelligent Automation changing the game for retailers?
Spataro: Intelligent automation powered by Legion WFM technology enables retailers to maximize labor efficiency and employee engagement simultaneously. With intelligent automation, retailers can streamline labor operations and free managers to focus on what matters most, like interacting with customers and their employees. With automated scheduling, managers can reduce schedule creation and management time by 50%.

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Technologies such as these give managers powerful tools to manage labor, automate day-to-day decision-making, improve compliance, and engage effectively with employees. AI and automation can be used by managers to instantly optimize schedules that are free of errors and bias. Managers can focus on exceptions versus the expected. Intelligent automation makes managers better and frees them to focus on what they do best. 

Retailers can improve employee engagement through the power of intelligent automation. Other than pay, hourly employees want schedule flexibility and control above all else. With WFM, employees get self-service tools to claim and swap shifts even at other locations. There's no paperwork or time-consuming approval processes. The swap is automatically approved based on business rules, the schedule is instantly updated, and the manager is automatically notified. Automated Scheduling technologies make decisions automatically based on data and managers are always kept in the loop with automated actions and can intervene anytime. 

These WFM technologies enable intelligent automation to help managers significantly improve responsiveness while spending less time on employee scheduling requests. Ensuring hourly employees are taken care of doesn't cost more. It's built into the platform. 

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