Across the country, the last few days and weeks of summer are winding down. Temperatures are starting to fall, and soon leaves will follow. As autumn settles in, though, retail distribution operations are just starting to really get cranked into gear.
The coming of fall means it’s time for retail peak season. With the holidays coming into sight, retailers are working hard to ready their people, their facilities, and their operations for the busiest time of the year.
One of the most common problems faced by retail distributors is getting the right amount of labor into their facilities. Then, once those teams are in place, they must be managed to deliver the needed production. How can retail distributors cover these bases, while still handling all their other requirements, without raising costs?
In 2019, both Macy’s and Williams-Sonoma were struggling through these issues. Both hired nGROUP to help them not just survive last year’s peak season, but to actually thrive and make it one of their best yet.
Finding the People
Macy’s approached nGROUP for help with a temporary “pop-up” operation in the Tampa Bay area. They needed more than 500 seasonal employees to fill out the building. Our agreement to work together was finalized in September, and all 500 workers were hired and trained by the beginning of November.
Williams-Sonoma, a kitchenware and home furnishings retailer, had more modest personnel requirements, but a tighter timetable. Thanks to a minor crisis at one of their facilities, they asked nGROUP to recruit some 80 positions… in less than 10 days! But our recruiters were up to the challenge. Even in a market with very low unemployment, our people put together the workforce Williams-Sonoma needed — and did it without raising wages.
Managing the Performance
Just putting people on the floor is only half the battle during peak season. To truly excel, those people need active, effective management. The right production floor leadership can mean the difference between the best peak season ever, or missing production goals entirely.
Macy’s knew this was true. Their Tampa pop-up operation was an attempt to try something different because the things they had done in the past just hadn’t worked well enough. To get better results, they would have to try something truly new.
For Macy’s, outsourcing production floor management was truly new. The retail giant had never relied on a third-party provider for this crucial component. But after seeing nGROUP’s work with our other clients, they were ready to give us a try.
With our managers and supervisors leading the Tampa pop-up, the numbers went through the roof:
- The 2019 Tampa pop-up almost doubled production numbers from previous pop-ups within the same division. They went from about 8 Units Per Hour (UPH) to over 15 UPH, a 91% increase in production.
- A 500-person workforce was recruited, trained, and on-line in less than 60 days.
- Labor cost savings compared to other facilities added up to $1M in Q4 alone!
Finding the right people and managing them effectively are two of the most important elements in making peak season a success, rather than a stress. By working with us last year, both Williams-Sonoma and Macy’s were able to find even more success at this busiest time of the year.
To say the least, 2020 has been a year like no other. There are many questions and concerns floating around about the economy. Many are wondering what “peak season” will really look like this year for retail distributors.
For Macy’s and Williams-Sonoma, those questions are especially critical. Because of the success of 2019’s peak season, however, both organizations know they have a secret weapon this year. Both will continue to work with us for recruiting and labor management services.
Last year, Macy’s especially felt concern about trusting a third-party management provider. Once Williams-Sonoma and Macy’s both saw the results, though, they were convinced we could help them hit new highs in peak season. Now, in 2020, with so much else up in the air it seems — with so much potential for even more chaos than normal — it’s a huge relief for operations like these to have a reliable partner like nGROUP in their corner.
Speaking of Peak Season 2020…
Despite all that 2020 has brought, at nGROUP we are still projecting a very busy peak season. Not only are we returning to work with many retail distribution clients from years past, such as Macy’s and Williams-Sonoma, but we are also excited to be joining new clients this year.
“Is it too late for my organization to start working with nGROUP?” No, not necessarily. We’d love to discuss your needs and goals for this peak season. We know how important this period is to you. In any given year, peak season is vital to success. In 2020, it might be even more important.
That’s why nGROUP’s services are even more valuable than ever right now. Our organizational mission is to get rid of labor management headaches. We do that by recruiting first-rate workforces, providing effective management, and using breakthrough technology to improve performance. The result is simple: our clients do more, spend less, and eliminate painful labor management obstacles. That’s something every retail distributor could use this year.
If you’d like to experience that, click here. As we said, 2020 is already shaping up as a very full peak season, and we’d love to work with you, too. Get in touch with us today, and we’ll start the process of understanding your needs and goals, and how we can help get you there.
To read more about nGROUP’s work with Macy’s, check out the full case study.
To read more about nGROUP’s work with retail distribution operations, go here.
To read more about nGROUP’s staffing and recruiting services, go here.