3 Big Takeaways from NRF 2024!

January 18, 2024

by Kristin Brennan

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With more than 40,000 people from 100 countries and about 1,000 exhibitors, NRF 2024 did not disappoint. As expected, Generative AI was a hot topic. Retailers are using the technology in innovative ways to improve the customer and employee experience. AI can help retailers achieve their operational excellence goals by automating key tasks saving associates and their managers valuable time. Industry leaders Rite Aid, Cinemark, Alo Yoga, and ALDO Group shared their insights.


Key Takeaways

WFM Should Be Automated But Will Never Fully Replace The Human Element

There was consensus that the intelligent automation of WFM should be used to do the heavy lifting, freeing managers and associates to focus on what’s most important such as spending time with customers, personal development, and more value-added tasks. Francois Paquin, Senior Operations Manager at ALDO Group, said, “Automation can strongly assist various aspects of WFM. I see this as a collaboration between an automated tool and the store manager.”

Retailers Must Focus on the Employee Experience

A common theme across sessions was that the employee experience is directly tied to the consumer experience and the brand promise. Retailers must pick tools that remove friction and will make their employees’ lives easier. Christopher Frey, Director of WFM at Cinemark, shared, “The easier we can make it on employees, the more engaged they’re going to be. When you know employees can see their schedule at all times, that makes it more likely they will be there for their shifts.” Sumit Singh, CEO of Chewy, shared that the purpose of the brand is to attract and retain which applies to both customers and the frontline.

The right user-friendly AI-based technology can empower frontline teams. Dylan Swaim, Manager, Workforce Management & Analytics, and Diane Grair, Operations Analyst at Alo Yoga, shared that they have become almost heroes to their store managers and associates. Before Legion, the Alo team used paper-based scheduling and didn’t have an easy way for employees to swap shifts or claim open shifts. It was hard for newer employees to ask co-workers they had never met to swap shifts. With the mobile app, the associates get schedule flexibility and control at their fingertips. Managers used to spend up to 10 hours per week creating schedules, which took time away from developing their teams and spending time with customers. With Legion, the time it takes to create and maintain schedules is a fraction of what it originally was. The team shared, “Everything is streamlined. It means more time on the floor. More time with our people. More time with our clients.”

Having the right forecast is another key way to improve the employee experience. According to Jim Malafronte, Director of Workforce Management and Labor Operations at Rite Aid, “One of the cornerstones of WFM is having an ability to accurately forecast. Having the right labor at the right time really decreases stress.”

Pay Flexibility Improves Financial Well-Being and Operational Efficiency

Francois Paquin shared that rolling out Legion InstantPay to the ALDO associates was a “no-brainer”. It enabled employees to improve their financial well-being by accessing their earned wages immediately. The demand for earned wage access has increased 20x over the past 3 years and is quickly becoming a must-have for attracting and retaining retail associates.

ALDO has also seen a dramatic improvement in clock-in hygiene. ALDO employees using Legion InstantPay had a 66% reduction in late clock-ins. That’s because if an employee clocks in and out properly, then their earned wages are instantly available. If they clock in or out late, their time card requires manager approval before they can get their early pay.

Overall, NRF was an incredible experience. We’re looking forward to helping other retailers across the globe maximize labor efficiency and employee engagement simultaneously with intelligent, automated, employee-centric WFM.

Contact us to learn more about Legion.