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New Solution to Managing Beauty Department Talent

Brands and retailers need to prepare for the shift to an on-demand or freelancer staffing model in the beauty business

Demand for high levels of service in the beauty department is at fever pitch as retailers strive to keep shoppers in brick-and-mortar stores.

Online shopping is convenient, but beauty remains a high-touch category. “Beauty talent is the heartbeat of the industry. They [beauty advisers] are the ultimate influencers and without them, sales stop,” explained Scott Gurfein, the founder of skin-care brand Freeze 24-7.

Gurfein learned the importance of having the right people at the right place at the right time from his own experience. When he could get his skin care into consumers’ hands, they were more likely to buy. But managing the talent was a headache and he had few tools to gauge his return on investment.

While working with a solution for his own needs, Gurfein and a team of industry professionals crafted AllWork, a platform streamlining the process for brands and retailers of finding, managing and paying talent.

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AllWork is rolling out to brands and retailers.

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“The business [AllWork] was born out of a personal need I had when I was running Freeze 24-7. I was spending more than $300,000 per month on in-store talent to drive sales, and I had no way to measure ROI to guide my spend,” he recalled.

Because there were few systems for scheduling, timesheet and management, his high-level management was bogged down with administrative chores instead of driving growth. Compounding the issues was exposure to liability as his company attempted to comply with a multitude of labor laws across the states, where his products were sold. By many estimates, 20 to 25 percent of a company’s revenues can be chewed up by freelance and beauty adviser talent.

He’s already worked with several beauty clients and this month is rolling AllWork out to other brands and retailers. While it is applicable to many high-service categories, AllWork hits a sweet spot in the beauty business.

AllWork was designed to help companies match the professional inventory (including beauty advisers, makeup artists and trainers) with needs in an efficient and measurable manner. It provides an end-to-end solution to find, manage and pay retail talent. The platform provides a suite of tools for brands and retailers to staff more efficiently and manage talent assets. The cloud-based software handles everything from timesheets and scheduling to training and crunching return on investment numbers. Those who have used it added it offloads the tasks of legal and administrative burdens to shield users from coming under scrutiny from labor laws.

“It is truly needed by the industry,” voiced Ken Landis, a cofounder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics who is a special adviser and investor in AllWork. He said the platform makes the hiring and management of talent more productive for both retailers and brands. Brands have greater control over talent and can optimize sales. The pool of experts has greater access to jobs.

Gurfein believes AllWork can have the same impact on retail service that models such as Uber have on transportation.

Those who have already signed on concurred. “I was an early adopter of AllWork,” explained Colleen Pierce who used the platform when she was senior vice president of sales for Clarisonic. “AllWork was a fantastic partner, seamlessly adapting as our business needs scaled to support a multimillion dollar freelance expenditure,” she said. With her new venture, a nutritional product called 8 Greens, Pierce has teamed up with AllWork again. “The company’s platform has allowed me to streamline operations and drive productivity at door level, which is critical in today’s environment.”

The changing face of retail service needs will expand the need for efficient ways to reach and hire talent, experts predicted. The nature of retail today makes it difficult for retailers and brands to predict “need” patterns, according to Howard Meitner, the founding chief executive officer of Sephora at the time LVMH launched in the U.S. and a special adviser and investor in AllWork. “As a result we have seem ‘full-time’ employment decrease as a percentage of total workforce, with greater reliance on part-time and contract staff, [freelance workers].

All industries, including retail, complain about the difficulties and costs associated with the hiring of staff and the management of absenteeism, which are critical elements affecting the maximizing of sales, according to Meitner. “There is research that suggests by 2020, 40 percent of the workforce will be freelance workers, which will create a whole new logistical dynamic,” he shared.

Gurfein suggested the industry isn’t set up to accommodate the changes. “Brands and retailers are totally unprepared for the shift to an on-demand or freelancer staffing model,” he said. Added to that, Millennials have their own approach to work, which doesn’t click with existing sourcing and management methods, Gurfein maintained. They like to find opportunities via social media rather than traditional avenues.

To that end, AllWork’s pool comes from a growing 31,500-plus stable of those signed up on a Facebook page called CosmeticPeeps. Not only is it the heartbeat of AllWork, but the page is also a source for education and career advice.

Within the next few months, AllWork will activate an app. “So at any given time, beauty talent can choose where they want to work and what they want to do,” noted Kelly Kovack, AllWork’s chief marketing officer.