CASE STUDY RETAIL INDUSTRY
Metro Cash & Carry
Reduce queue length
Metro Cash & Carry cuts labour costs and boosts
Metro Cash & Carry, a division of Metro Group, the world’s fourth largest retailer, has cut
its labour costs by 3-7% and cut customer queues by 50% following a pilot using web-
based Workforce Management software from WorkPlace Systems, a world leader in the
development and supply of software solutions for Workforce Management.
In 2002, Metro Cash & Carry, with a €25 billion turnover and 77,000 employees, began taking
a hard look at its employee scheduling and forecasting methodology. It had largely been
handling these tasks at store level using paper-based schedules, Excel spreadsheets and
regional software solutions. Schedules were mostly based on historical sales ﬁgures. When
sales were expected to spike, store managers would respond by increasing staﬀ numbers
with little scientiﬁc basis.
Berthold Steur, project manager at Metro Cash & Carry, says his company was convinced
that putting this approach under the microscope would reveal ineﬃciencies that could be
addressed with the implementation of a store-based labour scheduling and forecasting
Berthold Steur developed and issued an RFI with a list of about 150 questions on the
speciﬁcations being sought. WorkPlace Systems scored the highest, with in excess of 90%
of the requirements met. This process took about one year, and included a number of
workshops and meetings as Metro narrowed down the ﬁeld of vendors.
CASE STUDY RETAIL INDUSTRY
In March 2003 the company began a store pilot of WorkPlace Systems’ labour scheduling and
forecasting software. Initially, the solution would be rolled out only to checkout employees
and then later to the other departments within the store. The project began with a seven-
month design phase, followed by nine weeks of active implementation. The ﬁrst four weeks
of this was spent brieﬁng upper level management on the impending project. Following
that a week was spent preparing data for the stores, testing the system and checking the
results. A further week was spent writing reports, training and uploading employee data and
populating the system’s Oracle 9i database. Week seven was spent ﬁne-tuning the system,
and by week nine both the system and a dedicated help desk were live.
Metro is now rolling out WorkPlace Systems’ forecasting and scheduling solution across 517
sites, across 28 countries and in 18 diﬀerent languages. With WorkPlace Systems’ support, the
system implementation is being performed by Metro’s own IT group, following a period of
Key to the solution is the ability to build schedules based not simply on sales, but on items,
invoices, registers, levels of customer service, centrally driven task management tasks, and
historical data, among others. Metro now expects that as the roll out moves forward, greater
eﬃciencies will be realised by an interface to the company’s SAP HR and ﬁnancial systems.
One of the strengths of the WorkPlace Systems’ solution is that it can meet the unique criteria,
business practices and employment law in each of the countries that Metro trades in. The
software is capable of handling complex region-speciﬁc rules e.g. diﬀerent rates of pay in
each country, local pay agreements such as triple time on the third Sunday of the month, and
allocating hours in accordance with chosen working patterns and within statutory limits such
as working time directives.
As a management tool the application produces powerful reports because it is integrated
with all key data sources including Metro’s SAP system, which holds all the staﬀ data including
skills, and the EPOS system, which holds all the sales data. Metro can centrally monitor all
sites, at country level and identify which countries or regions are delivering better results, and
then examine the reasons why.
Part of the solution included WorkPlace Systems’ CST (Customer Service Tool) – this forms
part of the till system, and requires direct input from the cashier. Metro wanted this
implementation to help them improve customer satisfaction levels and cut queues in store to
one person at the till and one waiting. The CST requires staﬀ to input how many people are
queuing, and then prompts the management to open another till when necessary.
Following the implementation of WorkPlace Systems’ labour scheduling and forecasting
software, labour savings of between 3% and 7% were achieved and some store managers
beneﬁted by spending up to 20 fewer hours per week, per department building forecasts and
Berthold Steur, project manager at Metro Cash & Carry, added,
“While the goal of the project was to increase the eﬃciency of the workforce and test a
standard, harmonized solution for forecasting and scheduling applications, customers
were the big winners. We realised a reduction of more than 50% in customer queues.”
Integrated Solutions Magazine, 2004
WorkPlace Systems plc
Precedent Drive, Rooksley, Milton Keynes MK13 8PP
Telephone +44 (0) 1908 242 042 Facsimile +44 (0) 1908 201 148