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Prioritising Payroll and People: A Retail Transformation

It’s a well-known fact that businesses need to continually adapt in line with macro-environmental changes in order to maintain and grow their competitive advantage, but in the fast-moving retail sector, this is especially true. The advent of technology has clearly had a huge impact on retailers across the globe in recent years, with online retail purchases catapulting tenfold and the industry as a whole riding high.

With this fast growth and low barriers to entry comes market saturation, however - and this is what is really driving the need for retailers to innovate and set themselves apart from the competition. As such, companies are having to continually come up with new ways to innovative and stay ahead of their competitors. Encouragingly though, more and more organisations are starting to modernise from within, with business leaders realising that the key to brand differentiation starts with a bottom up approach. This includes optimising back office business functions and operations to improve the employee, and as a result, the customer experience.

So how exactly can a traditionally back office function such as payroll be used as a means of competitive business edge?

In the same way that customer experience dominated retail headlines over the past decade, savvy business leaders are now dedicating more time and resource to improving people experiences with the belief that engaged employees deliver better products and services for the customer. Optimised payroll that delivers a consistent, accurate and user-friendly experience for employees is a key part of this.

    The Global Retail Revolution

    Many retail businesses are also expanding their reach overseas and more often than not, these companies have large payrolls that span multiple geographic markets. For retailers using different payroll providers in different markets, this poses new - and increasing - business risks stemming from poor global visibility, growing inconsistency and high complexity.

    So, with the global retail revolution well and truly upon us, here are three reasons why multinational retailers need to prioritise their global payroll in order to transform operational efficiencies and long-term business outcomes:

      1. Better Cost Control

      Other than the more obvious economies of scale that adopting one global payroll solutions provider can provide, adopting one system ensures a single source of truth than rings true across a retailer’s entire geographic network – and at any time, and from any device.

      The improved accuracy, efficiency and pan-geographic insight that this delivers benefits both the business and the end employee. Firstly, the retailer is much better positioned to analyse its global payroll data as a means of identifying how employee spend is being allocated across the board, but also – and more importantly, how this fares in ROI terms when compared with sales data

      From a planning point of view, retailers can then adjust country staffing levels in line with customer demand. This enables for improved ongoing cost control by reducing over-spend and lost profit, and informing better future business decision-making. 

        2. The Power to Predict

        What many business leaders fail to recognise is that modern global payroll solutions can also provide data that extends to time and absence tracking. Armed with this pan-geographic insight, business leaders can even identify unusual employee behaviour patterns, allowing the employer to take action with the employee if appropriate, or even start to put succession plans in place.

        This foresight can pay dividends in terms of competitive advantage by enabling businesses to remain one step ahead of the curve so that customer experience is never negatively impacted by a retailer’s staffing issues. Simply put, retailers that are not using payroll and HR analytics to inform decision-making are missing a trick and will suffer from reduced agility and business growth.

          3. Retaining Retail Talent

          Global payroll systems can provide some very tangible business benefits as outlined above, but what is less widely considered is the fact that giving employees anytime, anywhere access to their payroll history can actually improve the people experience too. And, when combined with other employee-focused HR and business initiatives, payroll can be a key contributor to increasing staff retention levels. Given the costs to replace trained retail staff can be significant when employee turnover is high, businesses are getting wise to the fact that retention, rather than replacement, spells much better news for business performance. 

          As with many other industries, the retail sector is constantly evolving and business leaders must seek new, out-of-the-box means of strengthening competitive stance via their internal systems and processes. Only then will retailers around the world enjoy the business benefits that prioritising people and process can deliver.

          Peter Van Ostaeyen, Retail Business Manager, SD Worx