How Nespresso got the right blend of productivity

George Clooney has been the face of Nespresso for over a decade, with the glamorously-shot ads positioning the coffee business as a premium brand. Indeed, its products tend to be more expensive than its competitors.

But part of the firm’s brand appeal also lie in it stores: a showcase for customers to smell, touch, and taste the capsules. The business has 790 boutiques in 499 cities in 69 countries totalling 13,600 employees. In the UK it has 44 stores, and 500 staff. Last year it also opened up “micro boutiques” in a number of John Lewis department stores.

However, with such a large workforce spread across a number of regions, the company realised it needed a more efficient staff work scheduling process. So in 2015 it partnered with workforce management software company Kronos to optimise the number of staff on the shop floor at peak times. It has since rolled out the system to other regions.

Previously it managed the staff work flow with Microsoft Excel spreadsheets across all locations, says Alice Abrokwa, Human Resources Information Systems manager for Nespresso at Nestle.

“In our sector it can be challenging to accurately predict customer traffic: some days there can be an overload of customers, whereas on other days there may be very quiet periods,” she tells Essential Retail.

“With this in mind, we were looking to work towards always having the correct staffing levels in relation to the traffic we were receiving. We were finding that, in our boutique stores, we weren’t getting the right number of staff on the floor during peak periods, but then on other occasions we would find that we were overstaffed during times when it wasn’t needed. We were therefore really keen to balance this issue and minimise the loss of sales as a result of not optimising staff.”

The old process had the potential to cause issues for managers, who were not only having to spend time actioning manually but also had to remember the different labour rules for their specific country, she adds.

What else?

It has also freed store managers from being stuck in the back office and not aware of what is going on at the floor level. “The extra time that managers have gained from reducing the administrative work attached to scheduling means that they now spend a lot more time on working closely with staff, giving real-time feedback and training to employees.”

In some countries Nespresso works with agencies instead of full-time employees. Under the new system it can better forecast what the demand will be and then call on staff as it needs to. “So aside from compliance, another really important driver for our company was that we can control our business expenses and control our operational labour costs.”

She adds: “We anticipate that the Kronos systems will help us reduce our labour costs by 5% one year after implementation. We have key performance indicators (KPIs) in place that track this on a monthly basis, and at present we are looking as though we will achieve this within the first year.”