Impact of the National Minimum Wage is the ‘queue’ to look closer at new technology

Dictionary description of Minimum Wage

On the 1st April the National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW) went up as follows:

25 and over by 4.9% from £7.83 to £8.21 per hour (NLW)

21- to 24-year-olds by 4.3% from £7.38 to £7.70 per hour

18- to 20-year-olds by 4.2% from £5.90 to £6.15 per hour

16- to 17-year-olds by 3.6% from £4.20 to £4.35 per hour

Despite the recent rise, it’s back on the news agenda as the political climate hots-up with the prospect of a General Election on the horizon.  Grabbing the headlines, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has recently pledged that Labour would raise the minimum wage further to £10 per hour for all ages.

While the rise in the minimum wage has been good for staff and is helping to improve national living standards, for independent convenience retailers who operate on razor thin margins it piles on more pressure to already stressed budgets.

Minimise the impact of the minimum wage

There’s lots of talk right now about digitally-driven convenience stores, the role that technology has to play in shopper engagement and transforming retail operations.  However, the benefits of better technology are more fundamental than some of the radical opportunities being talked about in the media.  The overriding opportunity it presents is the chance to sell more with the same or even fewer staff in-store.  Achieving this can dramatically reduce the financial impacts of the minimum wage.  Here’s some examples:

Smarter working

Using modern front of store POS technology makes shop staff more efficient.  Next-generation POS systems function like a smartphone with familiar gestures and functionality, making tills more user-friendly and easier to train people on.  The result is staff get up to speed faster, customers get served quicker and more sales are made.  More efficient staff could also mean fewer people on shift to serve the same volume of customers.

Self-shopping

Enabling shoppers to drive their own in-store experience also means less labour on the shop floor.  If customers can scan their shop as they go using their mobile, or use a self-checkout to conclude their visit, fewer staff are needed and queues can be cut dramatically.

Happier staff

Technology plays a big role in how staff perceive their workplace.  If they are equipped with easy-to-use technology that makes their job easier, it stands to reason they’ll be happier.  And there’s countless studies that illustrate that happier people work harder – by as much as 20% according to some research.  Happy people are more friendly with customers which increases the chances of return visits, more productivity means more customers get served and simpler technology helps overcome problems faster, cutting down on staff stress and customer irritation.

Grow basket spend

Getting a better handle on what your typical customer is buying from you and then constructing offers and deals to increase their spend will help to grow revenues and margins, by maximising every customer visit.  Intelligent POS systems help track and analyse this data and puts you well on your way to achieving a higher basket spend per customer, which goes towards offsetting the growing overhead of staff wages.

Customers are going cashless

Fewer customers want to use cash, especially younger shoppers who expect to be able to pay by card and mobile phone for everything.  Offering alternative forms of payment is essential and will encourage more footfall in-store and make for a more convenient shopping experience.

While it might sound a scary prospect, investment in this kind of technology isn’t as expensive as you’d think and will quickly pay for itself.  TLM offers a line-up of in-store technology solutions that are ready to help modernise how your store functions.  For more information or to talk with one of our experts, get in touch.

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