RETHINK Retail’s Solution Spotlight shines a light on industry vendors and what makes them distinct.
This vendor spotlight is on Blue Yonder and Microsoft. Blue Yonder is the world leader in digital supply chain and omni-channel commerce fulfillment. Microsoft is an international technology corporation producing innovative computer software solutions to businesses and consumers.
To learn more about Blue Yonder, visit: https://blueyonder.com/
To learn more about Microsoft, visit: https://news.microsoft.com/
Hi, my name is Erin Halka. I’m Industry Strategy’s Director for Retail here at Blue Yonder.
I’m Ricardo Belmar. I’m the Lead Partner Marketing Advisor for Retailing and Consumer Goods at Microsoft.
With Blue Yonder, we provide supply chain end-to-end planning. So, whether that be choosing the products that you’re going to offer to your customer, the manufacturing activities of those goods, and then pulling those goods back through your network and putting them within your facilities and within your stores. We have end-to-end planning capabilities that also support that as well as Omni and workforce solutions to help with the orchestration of those orders and customer engagement.
One of the areas that Microsoft we think really has a lot of need right now is in how retailers empower their frontline staff to not only do, it’s not really about doing a better job, but it’s about having an easier method to get a lot of the repetitive tasks done. And it’s up to the technology and the tools to really empower that staff to be able to complete those tasks as quickly and efficiently as possible. So, they can really focus on the customers, which is why they’re all here in the first place, right? So with that, one of the things we’ve done is really look to augment our Microsoft Teams capabilities for frontline workers and work with partners who can really add on to that functionality in a unique way to again, help with that efficiency and help with that productivity.
Blue Yonder is very well known in other areas with retailers, particularly around supply chain management. And an advantage in Blue Yonder adding this capability is it allows a retailer to have almost a single source vendor for a lot of additional capabilities, but it also means that there’s a very strong support mechanism behind this solution along with Microsoft that can help the retailer implement and make sure that everything is working properly for their frontline staff. So, it’s really exciting for us to be partnering with them.
We were looking for a way to have better communication, not just from the scheduling. We had existing capabilities that would allow an associate or a manager to be virtual and communicate. But what we found is that retailers need to have more company wide communication that’s being sent out to their employees and they didn’t want to have two different systems that they needed to engage with their employees in. They need to know about their employees and they needed to share information. So, we felt like Microsoft was a great partner. Using their platform form within Teams and their shifts capability to be able to pull in kind of that voice of the associate and use that information to help guide scheduling the workforce as well. One of the most important things is that the employee wants to feel like the retailer or the warehouse facility is listening to them, listening to the types of shifts that they want to work, the hours that they want to work, when they need time off, and making sure that’s automatically incorporated into the scheduling.
And again, it’s easier to have a single place for the associate to be able to enter that information. So, we felt by using kind of the core capabilities that Microsoft offers, it could help streamline that and not require the employee to feel like they’re needing to go multiple places to enter in that information. One of the most important things is to make the employee part of the community of the organization. So, to give them information, to draw them in, to be able to let them provide feedback in a format as well. And then also if there is different capabilities that they could be scheduled for, giving them an opportunity to help prioritize the type of jobs and tasks that they want to do, that they’re drawn towards. And by having an ability for the employee to enter in that and then let a system automatically kind of take that matrix across all your staff and the complexity of a store, to be able to pull that in and actually help showcase the results to the employee’s preferences and desires, it’s huge on employee retention.
We found at least a 25% employee retention alone by being able to allow the employee to do that. On the reverse, from the retailer’s perspective, it’s really challenging for them to help managing the overall cost of their schedules. With that increase in the hourly rate that’s going up, it’s really hard to be able to hit your target of what your cap is, I’d say on a weekly basis. So, trying to think through how do I make my employee happy but also find the optimal price that it’ll take to run my store in an efficient manner is key. So, we felt like having that information and that connection points is important to make the employee happy, but also make the retailer profitable and ultimately drive better customer satisfaction. Because the customer wants to make sure that when they come into the store, they get a great experience. And so, by having that scheduling in the right place, that are pleased to work and have that great customer service, we’ve seen tremendous improvement overall.