The Candid Voice in Retail Technology: Objective Insights, Pragmatic Advice

Time For Better Employees

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If you read our recent benchmark report on workforce management, which we called Building A Better Workforce: What Will It Take?, you were exposed to a thoughtful piece of research that read, hopefully, in a measured tone that's appropriate for a research report. What you wouldn’t have seen was the authors poring over data which led us to start gently pulling at our own hair.

We’ve been tackling this topic for some time now. And with each passing year it gets slightly more difficult to find a tone that doesn’t smack of, “really?” or “c’mon!". The verdict has long been in: if you’re a store-based retailer, one of the guaranteed things that can help you compete with the ever-growing Amazon monster is a worthwhile employee. Are they hard to come by? Yes. Are they expensive to train and keep current with tech? Yes. But once you've got them, you should be doing everything you can to keep them on your team. Indeed: the antiquated model of “retail is just a low-wage, high-turnover affair and always will be” has run its course, and those who hope to be here ten years from now have come to admit that.

Have you?

Consider just a few of the areas where Retail Winners – those whose sales are already outperforming their peers – have already turned the corner in the first chart below.


This second data point, that technology is the key to enabling employees in delivering high-value customer experiences, teaches us that it’s not just a one-time thing, either. It’s about making sure that employees continue to learn, grow and provide relevance to consumers – especially since consumers become more complex and demanding every day.

But if the future of store-based retailing really is to reside with an employee much different than the one we've all gotten used to over the last generation, it's also not going to be just about the sexy, customer facing stuff either. The behind-the-scenes tech required to keep employees in the game - and happy - are just as important, as you can see:


This is one area where, while the value is clear, the industry is in dire need of an update. In many of these cases, such as on boarding solutions, recruitment solutions, and even learning management systems, retailers have had some form of older technology at their disposal for quite some time. But that doesn’t mean they are happy with what they have. What they require now is an integrated solution that can leverage mobility and analytics to simplify work for employees at the store.

No matter who you are or what you sell, it's time to get real about the value of employees. They have to be valued. They have to be better equipped. And above all else, they need to be present, in every sense of the word. We really hope next year our data reflects an industry closer to adopting that notion en masse.

 

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Articles & Opinions February 27, 2018
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