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    Wal-Mart to Base Store Personnel Shifts on Shopper Traffic Patterns

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- In a bid to achieve greater productivity and customer satisfaction, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. here is reportedly using a computerized scheduling system to help schedule employees' shifts based on the number of customers in stores at any given time.

    BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- In a bid to achieve greater productivity and customer satisfaction, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. here is reportedly using a computerized scheduling system to help schedule employees' shifts based on the number of customers in stores at any given time.

    The system tracks data including individual store sales, transactions, units sold, and customer traffic in 15-minute increments over seven weeks, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Then it compares the data to the prior year. Patterns from the data are then used to schedule workers.

    The Wall Street Journal reported that the system could burden employees, however, by demanding greater flexibility. For instance, a company might need to bring in more employees during busy midday hours and then gradually taper off until the busier evening rush. Employees could conceivably be asked to be "on call" to meet customer demand, or sent home when customers are sparse, resulting in less pay.

    Wal-Mart began implementing the new system for some workers, including cashiers and accounting-office personnel, last year, according to the article.

    Non-food retailers that have rolled out advanced scheduling systems in the past year, or are currently doing so, include Payless ShoeSource Inc., RadioShack Corp., and Mervyns LLC.

    Wal-Mart has said that in one test of the system last year in 39 stores, 70 percent of customers said the checkout experience had improved.

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