TOPSHOP. Without needing any further explanation, the name itself carries influence and prestige; rightfully so. With 300 stores in the UK alone, the iconic name boasts some impressive numbers with 440 locations across the globe and over 100 different countries to which it ships. With the holiday season just around the corner, TOPSHOP is no stranger to handling the masses with ease.
As is the case with most success stories, “TOPSHOP has developed from its humble beginnings in the basement of a Sheffield department store to an icon of British style.” From birth, sights were set on capturing the attention of the younger generation of shoppers through their innovative and unrivaled approach to fashion; and that strategy paid off, to put it modestly.
Fast forward to 2009; until this point, TOPSHOP was confined to the geographical boundaries of the United Kingdom. These boundaries proved no match in keeping the fashion powerhouse from fulfilling their, seemingly-infinite growth potential. In this same year, the first Topshop flagship store opens outside of the UK in none other than New York City and becomes an immediate success.
Meet, Victoria. TOPSHOP Branch Manager of Operations
Ask Victoria Farrell, Branch Manager of Operations at this historic New York Topshop. Before beginning her career with Topshop eight years ago, Victoria held management roles in a wide variety of retail chains, building her skill set and growing her experience along the way. With over 15 years experience under her belt at retail giants such as Walmart, American Eagle Outfitters, and others; Victoria was armed with the skills to exceed expectations at her management role at the flagship TOPSHOP store.
Further proving our assertion of Victoria’s innovative approach to her career, she mirrored Topshop’s forward-thinking and implemented the use of Shyft into her daily workforce management stack.
Victoria created her Shyft location in November of 2016, where she took immediate ownership of this new tool and was able to grow her location to nearly 200 users; becoming one of the most-active Shyft retail locations in New York City.
A quality that truly makes a leader great, is the ability to identify emerging trends in technology, completing a proper needs-analysis, and flawless execution of implementing said technology into the traditional process; all of which Victoria excels at.
To date, Victoria’s Topshop location boasts quite the impressive usage metrics, showing how quickly she and her team were able to adopt the new tech.
Impressed by her team’s activity, we knew we had to reach out to Victoria to gain a deeper insight into her success. We wanted to know – and share – how she was able to preemptively identify the potential benefits of implementing a Mobile Workforce Solution to her store. We wanted to know how she was able to gain such high employee adoption rates, how Shyft was able to evolve the way her Topshop utilizes this technology to enhance business processes and any additional insight that may be valuable to other aspiring managers wanting to share in Victoria’s success.
Catching Up With Rapidly-Changing Technology
“During a 12-18 month period, technology nearly doubles. So taking into consideration the advancement over the span of 15 years, technology now was likely to be incomprehensible 15 years ago.” (TheEmergingFuture.com)
Victoria explained this dramatic change in technology and employee scheduling from the start of her career at Walmart and how they used to do things. Scheduling in the Walmart days consisted of a tedious and heavy manual-centric process that required extensive editing and ultimately required more time managing the software than it saved.
As is the case with her following places of employment. Quite a bit of trial-and-error was required to figure out what was working with schedule management and what wasn’t.
When it came to scheduling distribution,
The employees would go and write them down, they had to come in and get their schedule. The responsibility was on the shoulders of the employee to come in, at say, Thursday at 12 to sit in the back, write your shifts down, and know when you work the following week.
As technology continued to progress throughout Victoria’s career and smartphones became smarter, that process evolved into a, still inefficient process, just now that process involved technology. Employees were nearly begging their coworkers to snap a photo of the schedule and send it to them via picture message so they didn’t have to come into work to get their schedule.
Other companies have shared in the past tales of woe that involve email and excel schedules and the dreaded accidental “reply: all” that accompany them. Phone chains, vague text messages, lost handwritten notes and unreliable Facebook group chats; the whole system was broken. The product of this natural evolution of technology is what has lead to the birth of mobile workforce management solutions lead by Shyft.
The ‘smartphone revolution’ has taken the old, conventional schedule management procedures and flipped it on its head. Mobile workforce management makes that process seamless by instantaneously putting schedules into employees pockets and streamlining processes, saving up to five managerial staff hours per week.
Topshop’s Evolution to the New Way of Scheduling
Before Victoria implemented Shyft at the Broadway store, scheduling was done on Excel spreadsheets. Yes, those Excel spreadsheets that nearly everyone has heard of, but only a small percentage of which are proficient in using.
Excel is undoubtedly an extremely robust program that easily executes tasks of extreme complexion, but ultimately that same power it harnesses is overwhelming and intimidating to those just meeting the robust software. It wasn’t designed for simple and straightforward schedule management. Victoria was one of many who have never used Excel prior to being faced with it as her only choice of workforce and schedule management.
Rising to a level of your career like Victoria has done, means possessing the abilities needed to identify a broken process such as using Excel as a workforce management tool; these abilities she possessed fueled her desire to seek a better solution. She stated that most, if not all, of her 200 employees have smartphones (which now are essentially powerful, mini-computers) in their pockets, so the thought of wasting that potential by using an inefficient process nearly baffled her.
Enter Shyft: post-implementation at her store, Victoria has found shift management, swapping, communication and schedule distribution to be significantly easier a process than before. It’s a simple, secure and reliable tool to make sure employees have their schedule in their hands, and are able to add flexibility to their schedule to meet their particular needs – they can ask coworkers to swap a shift, and then have a manager approve the shift swap all within the app.
Direct Benefits and Effect on Topshop Workforce Mangement
Expanding from above, Victoria’s store sends 18 chat messages per day, on average. She expanded on the contribution of this feature and how it has helped her be that hands-on leader she strives to be. She shared with us how the chat feature fits into the Topshop equation;
We use the chat for if an initiative (promotion) is happening in-store – just today I used it because we had friends and family.
By making sure she’s facilitating communication over a technological channel, Victoria is able to ensure employees have ready access to any information they may need; sales promotions, company initiatives, or to simply stay up to date on the ins-and-outs of what’s happening in the company.
Instead of leaning on, “he said-she said,” or fragmented conversations during work, managers are able to eloquently communicate with the entire staff about important updates or goals for the day. This newfound group collaboration helps to foster bonds between managers and the staff, ensuring everyone is on the same page regarding all that is work.
Prior to the switch, all internal communication took place on any number of apps; texting, Facebook, outside group chats, etc. There was absolutely no way for management to monitor or stay on top of it all. Without access and oversight of these communications, you’re relying on the professionalism of employees to keep communication appropriate and relevant; it’s hard. With one place for communication, Victoria is now able to monitor the exchanges and ensure the chat is solely about work.
While she has encountered a hiccup or two regarding the content discussed via chat, she explained it’s just human nature and it has actually been great to be able to address these issues as soon as possible, having those vital, “in the moment” conversations. Also stating how if Shyft had a feature built into the app to automatically monitor and notify management of any inappropriate messages and how that would be helpful, we assured her that is unquestionably a part our future product roadmap.
At Shyft, we can’t emphasize enough how nice it is for a manager to have a single and direct-line of communication to their employees; where with a press of a button, you can instantly communicate with each one. It’s another vital factor in making sure you stay ahead of the ever-changing technology curve.
Encouraging Transparency and Increasing Accountability
Shyft also produced another benefit Victoria shared with us. As per New York “Paid Sick Leave” law, when an employee calls out of their shift, “an employer cannot ask the reason why an employee is out sick.” She stressed that while this is great and protects the employee and their privacy, there are unfortunately a few daring employees who know that same law and take advantage of it.
Every team has those, “repeat offenders,” whose go-to excuse is that “they’re sick.” However, after the change to Shyft, it eliminates the ability to use that as an excuse. “If someone posts a shift 2-3 days before, we know that they actually don’t have a cold or anything,” Victoria shared. “We’re able to have that back trail so they don’t call out and we don’t know what’s going on.” Again, not usually a problem for Victoria, merely an added benefit to address a small, yet present side-effect produced by the old system.
Technology changes can help make great strides in improving management efficiency – particularly when adopting a cutting-edge approach and staying ahead of the curve. With such a crowded retailing space, customer support is one of the biggest priorities put on the shopping experience – and by implementing Shyft and taking advantage of this recent wave of technology, the New York Topshop location has been able to eliminate conflicts and make workforce management a pleasant process so they can focus on continuing to grow the iconic brand.
We want to give a huge thank you to Victoria for partaking in this series of Shyft Success Stories and sharing her own personal experiences with other aspiring managers.