ENHANCING BUSINESS INSIGHT

Learning by numbers at Mothercare

An increasingly competitive market sometimes demands a tightening of the payroll purse strings. But how does that effect sales in the long-run? Without real insight into the cost of cost-cutting, retailers risk chipping away at productivity. We put Mothercare’s stores under the magnifying glass to help improve visibility and make more minutes count.

Convertible prams. Multi-stage car seats. Retracting stair gates. The baby and toddler retail market can be a bewildering – and expensive – place. As a trusted global brand for expectant parents, Mothercare’s ability to sell high-value products is closely tied to having enough of their people out on the shop floor, engaging with customers and guiding them through purchases. In the wake of gradual but year-on-year changes, they needed to step back and look at the impact of a shrinking payroll budget.

Were they allowing enough colleagues hours to keep sales high and the store running productively? Could they save money in other ways without raiding the payroll pot? And how could they free up colleagues’ time to make their budget work harder? We stepped in to find out.

We took up residence in ten Mothercare stores across the UK, choosing a range of sizes and settings and spending a week in each. From demonstrating a pushchair to replenishing stock, we meticulously timed each and every task completed by their teams so we could produce accurate averages across the stores. We made detailed observations by looking critically at how each task could be made more efficient and how colleagues split their time during the day. We wanted to shed light on crucial questions like:

How much time do store teams spend with customers?

What pace do the store teams work at? How does that compare to British standards and retail benchmarks?

Are colleagues schedules matched to customer footfall?

We saw that while the colleagues at Mothercare are industry leading in the time they spend engaging with customers, there weren’t always enough colleagues on the shop floor for all the customers in the store at peak times. It was a sign that there we too many tasks taking colleagues away from customers.

But we also found opportunities to release more time to customers. By matching colleagues rotas to customer footfall and streamlining tasks – like tightening up stock handling and using employee apps to update colleagues on the go – we identified plenty of chances to reduce ‘non-effective’ time and shave valuable minutes from store processes. Over 450,000 hours’ worth, in fact.

Using the data we produced, Mothercare are populating a new wage budget model that will tell them exactly how many colleagues hours they need to run the store. So, as well as driving out inefficiency, they’ll be able to make informed, evidence-based decisions when it comes to addressing shortfalls and challenging budget cuts. They hope it will mean even more time spent with customers, and more prams, car seats and stair gates demonstrated and sold.

Karen Godbeer

Head of Retail

“ReThink were professional and a delight to work with, open to conversation and challenge whilst also supporting us to think differently. We really valued the realistic view they had of retail and its challenges.”