February 13, 2007, 12:00 AM

Workforce management system goes to work for Norm Thompson

Norm Thompson Outfitters’ system enhances productivity, flow of sales and customer service information among sales channels.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

In the increasingly competitive realm of Internet retailing, merchants are coming under more pressure to provide better customer service and increase operating efficiencies. One tool some merchants are using to tackle these challenges is web-based workforce management applications. These merchants are integrating applications into operating platforms for better management of employee productivity, flow of sales and customer service information among sales channels, and real-time tracking of worker performance.

“The workforce management application lets us determine what level of service we want to provide and develop strategies to meet our service needs across channels,” says Rosie Larraneta, operations manager at Norm Thompson Outfitters Inc., an online and catalog retailer of apparel, home furnishings, and outdoor sporting and camping products, and No. 117 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. “The application provides a better macro- and micro-view of worker productivity.”

The improved data flow across channels also enables real-time performance metrics for supervisors and even employees to stay abreast of how effectively the company is meeting daily sales and customer service targets, she says, and take corrective action as needed.

Norm Thompson Outfitters, however, seeks to take web-based workforce management to a new level. The retailer wants to use the application to link contact centers, distribution hubs and warehouses to provide a single overview of the entire workforce and projected staffing needs for each facility months in advance.

“We have a lot of customer centers and a lot of ebb and flow in them,” Larraneta says. “Our goal is to take the daily progress of our workforce and sync it to our sales and customer communications strategies.”

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