It may feel daunting, but a great retail tech platform can address the issue with minimal investmentWe all know that things are challenging in retail right now. We have inventory issues, inflation, COVID comebacks, and ecommerce backlash. But one of the most pressing issues retailers face today is the enormous burden of recruiting, training and retaining quality in-store staff. There’s a multitude of reasons for the Great Retail Resignation–some logistical and many cultural–but the inability for corporate mindsets to meet Gen Z expectations fast enough to matter is a big one. As long as today’s retail workforce feels like they’re being seen, heard, respected, and rewarded, they’re good. The problem is that they’re not.
The recent retail staffing facts and stats
Pre-COVID, staffing was already one of every retailer’s biggest challenges, and presently (according to TeamStage and The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), it’s not getting any easier.
- 37% of polled retail workers want to quit their jobs
- 27% of retailers identify turnover as their biggest problem
- Retail’s current turnover rate is 60.5%
- There are 1 million unfilled retail jobs in the U.S.
- 50% of all retail workers left their jobs in 2021
There seems to be a stigma attached to working in retail, and the sentiment is clear regarding why: unbalanced paychecks, no career development, poor training, and poor management.
From the retailer’s perspective, it’s equally painful. According to the Association for Talent Development, the cost to train a store employee is $1,252. When someone doesn’t work out, CareerBuilder’s Retail Training Center reports that it costs the retailer an average of $3,365. From what we’re hearing at this year’s retail trade shows, roughly 30% of store associates that are hired aren’t showing up on the first day. These are big, unprecedented problems.
The people involved are also changing. Historically, this was on HR’s shoulders to address–but we’ve seen a new twist on this, and so have the big consulting firms. Delloitte has been tracking the impact of The Great Retail Resignation on most businesses. They report that many retailers are now in a tough spot—with 83% investing most heavily on employee recruitment and retention, and they’re appointing HR, Marketing and IT to fix things . Executives are also acknowledging a need to reset the way they think about their employees as they consider the future, and the issues go far deeper than merely salaries.
To attract and retain store associates, we have to look through two lenses: (1) getting them and (2) keeping them
According to Suzanne Sears, retail staffing expert and president of Best Retail Careers International, the mass exodus of retail talent is driven by the fact that store workers just aren’t getting what they want from their employers. So, what, exactly, are their most pressing desires?
- To work for a company that’s aligned with their values and the things that they believe in;
- A real, tangible platform for their growth and development of their employees;
- Flexible work hours and time off;
- A strong employee community, mental health and wellness initiatives, and employee recognition and rewards programs;
- Diversity, equity and inclusion.
What’s interesting is that the recognition and awards they want don’t tie to money. They appreciate things like gift cards, free food and big public recognition and they also get motivated by feeling like they truly made a difference.
There are (3) ways that your retail technology platform can support your store staff
We work with enough retailers to know that these aren’t just statistics–for you, this issue is personal, it’s affecting your business and you need real solutions.
Here’s the thing. As much as we’ve been talking about the need to embrace a unified commerce platform for your customer, some of the same reasons apply to your associates. Just like it drives customers crazy to walk into a store and have no connection to the other commerce points that they connect with you on–or no information on their likes/dislikes, trends and past purchases–it’s just as hard for staff to service them from the same black hole of information. They are digital natives and used to having all the resources that they need to be successful literally at their fingertips. And, like customers, they want it easy, intuitive, mobile (via phone or tablet) and 100% accurate. Give them an antiquated tool to train on, sell on and check out on at your own risk.
Good thing that today’s retail technology makes it possible to set up your staff for success. Here are 3 simple ways a modern commerce platform can help.
- Real-Time Data Availability. You need to know what your associates are doing down to the minute and they need real time information to properly serve your customers from inventory availability, pick up in store, drop ship, promotions and more. If you don’t have real-time data, you’re in the dark and so are they…which means you can’t do anything with it.
- Get customer info in their hands. The fancy term is clienteling. The basic benefit is giving your staff the ability to personally serve every customer based on their preferences, history, CRM shout outs and actual inventory information–what’s available, where, when they can get it and how. When you tie this to new AI-enabled in-store video systems, you can go a step further and track how productive each associate is as well.
- Sync it all up with ranking software. There are now many software platforms that can stack rank data by sales and conversion rates, so your associates can feel part of the bigger team and know how they are performing up to the minute (and so do you), but only if connecting to an integrated platform.
If your platform can’t do some of these nifty features, don’t freak out. We can help with our new Managed Retail Commerce offering. It’s the platform we build for our customers, and it’s really the best way to make unified commerce real, pain free and future proof. We break it down and make it easy to understand in this overview.
Supporting your store staff is a retail business force multiplier
Keeping store staff engaged, retained and happy is crucial to the success of any retail business. We recently saw a great diagram called the “Engagement-Profit Chain”, which outlines the business value of employee engagement.
As you can see, employee engagement has a direct impact on a company’s bottom line. A highly engaged employee is a productive employee, more focused on their work and more motivated to achieve their goals than their disengaged counterparts. In fact, Gallup research, which examined about 1.4 million employees in 192 organizations across the globe, found that companies with a highly engaged workforce are 22 percent more profitable.
The challenges we have to attract, engage and retain great people are real, and they aren’t going away any time soon. Let’s talk about how in-store tech can help.
What you don't know can absolutely hurt you.
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