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Retail sales in Singapore have slowed by HR technology will help

HR software’s role in surviving (and thriving) in the retail downturn

Smart businesses are turning to technology to help them through the ups and downs of the retail industry, and HR software is right at the top of the list.

February’s retail sales index results for Singapore aren’t positive. With a 10% decrease year-on-year for retail sales (1.5% month-on-month), the seasonally adjusted figures showed that food, apparel, footwear, furniture and household items were hardest hit. Even taking into account the drop in car sales and that these figures are being compared to 2018 where Chinese New Year occurred in mid-February, it’s not a bright picture.

Higher rents, an increase in online shopping and changing consumer expectations and behavior including ‘show-rooming’ (where people look at products in-store but purchase online), are unlikely to change anytime soon.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Bricks and mortar stores are not going anywhere, and many business publications report that retailers are diversifying their marketing and distribution strategies to future-proof their businesses by combining in-store efforts with e-commerce.

It’s less obvious, but there’s also a lot that HR and leadership can do to improve the efficiency of business processes, increase productivity and save money – and it starts by investing in the right technology now.  It may seem counterintuitive to make a big IT purchase in the middle of a downturn, but there are a few key ways that HR software can play a significant role in helping organizations survive and thrive troubling times.


HR automation = time saved = money saved

The adage ‘Time is money’ is just as relevant today as it’s ever been. Time spent on administrative workforce management tasks like rostering, timesheets, onboarding, leave requests and payroll is money and man-hours that could be spent on growth strategies that will earn revenue.

Retailers now need to focus on automating as many administrative processes as they can. Firstly, it reduces the number of staff – and hence costs – require to completed those processes. Secondly, freeing up that time ensures that every valuable minute is spent serving the ever-changing demands of customers.


HR software offers greater visibility and control

Manual workforce management process – particularly creating rosters and staff schedules, and approving timesheets – don’t provide you with any visibility of exactly where your labor costs are going. It’s so easy to blow out the staffing budget and lose track of how much overtime is being used. In times like this when every dollar counts, HR software can play the role of budget-keeper for retailers by showing them how much they are spending for each shift, each, week and each month and gives them data on scheduled versus actual time worked to help monitor and reduce the use of overtime and penalty rates.

One of our clients reduced the use of overtime by 26% when they moved from paper and timesheets to an automated system.

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HR software will help retailers cope with change

Agility is crucial, and as Singaporean retailers modify their business models to incorporate e-commerce, their HR needs are changing. More online activity means hiring and managing more warehousing, customer service and logistics staff, as well as managing existing bricks and mortar staff. That’s a great thing for growth! But it does mean HR software should be at the forefront to ensure new staff are onboarded, rostered and paid as quickly and accurately as possible.


Retailers have an opportunity to use changing customer behavior to be innovative and rail against falling sales figures, but only if they recognize and leverage the role that HR software plays in supporting these changes.


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