NRF12: Using mobile technology to reach teen employees

NEW YORK — Most of Aeropostale’s sales associates are tech-savvy teenagers, and although stereotypes deem them lazy and careless, the retailer set out to increase employee performance.

Research shows that Millennials, made of people born between 1981 and 2000, are independent but positive, want recognition and rely upon technology. Those findings sparked Aero to turn to mobile technology to better communicate with and manage their employees.

Julie Sedlock, Aero’s group vice president of store operations, laid out the company’s path to reach their younger employees via a mobile platform, during a Sunday panel at the National Retail Federations’ Big Show.

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The company implemented Dayforce Workforce Management’s Internet and mobile application. All employees download the Aero app to their phones to manage their work responsibilities. The app allows them to schedule time off, check work schedules and review time sheets and pay earned.

Managers use it on their phones or iPads while on the store floor to track employee attendance, track tasks and store employee contact info. Gone are the days when a manager had to leave the floor to make phone calls or look up contact info. The system has a Key Performance Indicator dashboard that allows Aero’s corporate and store-level managers to track actual sales, expense and conversion performance to budget in real-time.

Management can also send mass texts and emails to employees via mobile devices.

“We didn’t have a vehicle before this to communicate down to the sales associate level; it was really the responsibility of the manager, but with this I can send out a broadcast email to 30,000 sales associates,” Sedlock said.

Mobile technology has not only helped the retailer communicate with their younger employees, it’s also helped bridge a gap between generations.

“We needed to understand them; they’re more tech savvy than their district managers and corporate leaders. We had to understand the value and role the technology plays in their everyday lives.”

Because the company took the time to understand how to best connect with these employees, Sedlock said they are happier with their jobs and even see the company as a forward-thinking "cool" place to work.

The sales associates, which are referred to as role models at Aero, basically serve as brand ambassadors. They talk about their jobs at school, in their communities and online, Sedlock said.

“We’re perceived as tech-savvy to a generation that rates that as extremely important,” she said.

Read more about employee training.

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