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03/08/2021

AutoZone accelerates speed, accuracy of store-level labor forecasts

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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A leading retailer of automotive replacement parts and accessories is keeping up with real-time demand and variability in labor requirements at its stores.

Based in Memphis, Tenn., AutoZone operates over 6,000 stores across North America and Brazil. The retailer has complex scheduling needs, as stores frequently vary in size and operating hours. In addition, some stores also act as regional distribution centers, supplying parts to other stores and to commercial customers.

And with as few as two associates working a typical shift, employees often act in multiple roles throughout the day. Depending on location, product selection, and a range of other variables, individual stores may have very different labor standards. Other factors, from weather conditions to economic upturns and downturns, can impact customer traffic, as well. 

AutoZone previously managed workforce management processes with a legacy platform comprised of several standalone systems, and couldn’t easily handle its forecasting and scheduling complexity. The platform relied on a custom-built labor model developed and maintained by AutoZone’s IT department, which needed to manually modify the underlying code for any change to the labor standard or store attributes, such as operating hours. 

To keep up with real-time demand, the store operations team wanted a system that enabled it to update the labor model without IT assistance. Based on those requirements, AutoZone selected the Reflexis Workforce Scheduler and Reflexis Time and Attendance solutions. Facing rising minimum wages and operating costs, accurate, simple scheduling was key to reducing spend without sacrificing the customer experience.

AutoZone created a new labor model and streamlined its budgeting, forecasting, and labor scheduling processes. Utilizing a more flexible and intelligent solution, AutoZone’s store operations teams are able to better account for unique sales and labor drivers, generating more accurate budgets, forecasts, and schedules. Leveraging advanced algorithms and rules-based automation, Reflexis Workforce Scheduler can accommodate variables including store types and sizes, individual departments, required workforce roles, locations, and regional labor laws. 

This enables AutoZone to create accurate labor forecasts at each store (to the 15-minute interval) and precisely align schedules with demand. AutoZone can also ensure that experienced associates who generate the most in-store sales are scheduled on the floor during peak sales hours. 

The system supports scheduling fairness as well, improving engagement and retention. Additionally, via Reflexis Time and Attendance, managers can accurately see employee clock-in and clock-out activities, and also receive alerts about impending labor violations to respond proactively and avoid fines and overtime costs. 

“We selected Reflexis solutions on the basis of their rich feature set, proven reliability, and ability to scale across our enterprise,” said Mitch Major, senior VP of supply chain, AutoZone.