Managing the varied shifts in retail stores is not easy. That’s why Western-Canadian retailer London Drugs has replaced a time and labour module from major software vendor PeopleSoft Inc., and a custom-built scheduling system, with a workforce-management product designed especially for retailers.
“We had found despite our best efforts that the PeopleSoft time and labour product, which we’ve had for three years now, just wasn’t doing the job for us,” says Clint Mahlman, vice-president of retail operations and distribution at London Drugs in Vancouver.
London Drugs uses software from PeopleSoft – now part of Redwood Shores, Calif.-based Oracle Corp. – extensively, so putting its time and labour module in the stores seemed a logical choice. But like many systems designed for other industries, Mahlman said, it didn’t adapt to retail well.
Software vendors often forget that in retail, employees don’t work regular hours sitting in the same place, Mahlman said. People work varying shifts, often doing different jobs on different days and reporting to different supervisors, and spend their time facing customers rather than computer screens.
After evaluating several packages that seemed better equipped to deal with the unique needs of retail stores, London Drugs settled on Kronos for Retail, from Mississauga, Ont.-based Kronos Canadian Systems Inc.
John Anderson, director of retail marketing for Kronos’ parent company, Kronos Inc. in Chelmsford, Mass., said the package is designed with retailers’ needs in mind.
“A retailer typically has many stores, they’re spread out across a wide geographic area, and when it comes to the employees in those stores, they have some managers but also many full-time and part-time associates,” Anderson said. Stores need more or fewer staff on duty depending on how busy they are, employees may be trained to work in several different departments, and shift workers have preferences about the hours they work.
Anderson said Kronos for Retail encompasses budgeting, forecasting, scheduling, business intelligence and other functions. One of its key capabilities, he said, is the ability to forecast sales and store traffic and then schedule employees appropriately based on those forecasts and business rules set up by the retailer.
The system can adhere to the requirement that part-time staffers not be assigned more than 32 hours per week, adjust staffing levels to how busy stores are expected to be at different times and take into account employees’ shift preferences, he said.
Originally, London Drugs was only shopping for a replacement for the PeopleSoft time and labour module. But after looking at Kronos for Retail, Mahlman said, the company decided it could also replace a scheduling system that London Drugs had built in-house and that was “a little long in the tooth.”
London Drugs is just starting implementation of Kronos for Retail, which will handle more than 7,000 employees in four provinces. Along with its own 63 stores, Mahlman said, London Drugs provides administrative support to other units of its Vancouver-based parent, H.Y. Louie Group.
Anderson said the price of the Kronos for Retail software varies according to the number of stores and employees the customer has.
Other Kronos for Retail users in Canada include Best Buy Canada and Ikea North America, Anderson says. Kronos also sells workforce management software for the manufacturing, health care, government and education, and business and financial services sectors.