US DIY retailer, Lowes, is using data collected from its car parks to optimise staffing ratios and gain a competitive advantage against its rival, Home Depot. As reported by Bloomberg Business Week, hourly images of the car park are collected by satellite, and these are analysed to help paint a picture of the peaks and troughs of customer attendance during the week. This data is then used to determine staffing levels so that neither too many staff (unnecessary expense) nor too few staff (compromising customer service and possible lost sales) are rostered on.
The data-savvy retailer goes one step further, comparing these car park occupancy figures to sales data to identify the percentage of people leaving without a purchase. The system seems to be reaping positive results; according to the report, Lowe’s “close rate” (i.e., left with purchase) in the 4th quarter was up 1%, with total sales per hour of labour up 2%, and overall profit for the quarter up 6.3%. Brilliant.
Forget the HR manager – the future of staffing optimisation is in the car park!
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