Research has shown repeatedly that happy employees are more likely to stay at their job, and that employee satisfaction has a positive effect on customer satisfaction. Yet, too many retailers are not investing in their staff. “Many retailers have been operating in mediocrity for decades,” says Harvard Business Review in “The financial case for good retail jobs”. “Employees have little to no empowerment. Store managers are too busy fighting fires to develop staff and really manage the business. Not surprisingly, stores are full of operational problems and deliver a poor customer experience.”
It’s time that retailers focus on making retail jobs more engaging and fulfilling, to better retain valuable employees and to build better experiences for consumers.
Technology can help. Here are three types of technology that will reshape retail jobs for the better in the upcoming months and years, and which can be implemented already today to increase staff empowerment, engagement and job satisfaction.
The cloud is one of the few winners of the Covid-19 crisis. In a recent KPMG report, 56% of the 900 technology executives interviewed said that the pandemic has made cloud migration an “absolute necessity.”
Running your IT in the cloud brings several advantages, one being support for more flexible work arrangements and remote jobs.
“Retail, and omni-channel retail in particular, is built on data. And today, to analyze data, you don’t need to be on the store floor, looking at sheets of printed statistics,” says Carsten Wulff, Vice President at LS Retail. “If you use a cloud-based retail solution that pulls information from your stores and eCommerce, you can get a unified view of your customers across all channels and transactions. You can then use this data to design personalized promotions or communications that engage them in a meaningful, personal way, wherever you are.”
Remote work, or “WFH” (working from home) as it’s increasingly called, will be a big part of tomorrow’s work landscape. As more and more companies plan to have employees work from home at least a few days a week for the foreseeable future, it becomes paramount to have technologies that support collaboration and safe and timely sharing of information – in other worlds, systems running in the cloud.
2. Unified commerce
Unified commerce combines all the functionality needed to run a retail business – back office, financials, sales, CRM, e-commerce, inventory management – within a single software platform. For retail employees, working with one software solution instead of many disconnected ones means fewer manual and repetitive tasks, reduced risk of errors, less time wasted, and higher efficiency.
With a unified commerce system employees also get visibility into every aspect of the business from inventory and merchandising to prices, Point of Sale, reporting, and beyond. This way, they are able to competently answer any customer query. Does a customer want to compare a product to a similar one they saw at another store location? Your employees can search the items at the POS and compare them, check what variants are still available in each store and warehouse across your retail chain, and if it’s a match, reserve or order products for the customer, with delivery.
If you add the power of unified commerce software to that of the cloud, you open up the possibility to access remotely all the information employees need to provide online support, manage inventory tasks, advise customers, see real-time sales and analyze trends, and more. Clare Vella, retail director at Club 21, told us how having the LS Retail unified commerce solutions enabled the Armani Exchange UK stores manage effectively their first big Black Friday sale. “It was 10:00 at night on a Friday night, and I was at home. I checked our sales, and I just saw an incredible amount of sales going through our Liverpool regional store,” Vella said. “I managed to call the warehouse to get them to come in on a Saturday morning to replenish the store, and get an emergency delivery to that store for the next day. With our old system we would never have had that visibility. The store manager probably would have called me and said “I’m desperate for stuff”. But with the solution from LS Retail, we were able to respond really quickly. As the sales were coming in hour by hour, we had people on standby to start picking and pulling the stock. This is what we call doing things in real-time.”
3. Intelligent analytics
Artificial Intelligence-powered analytics tools can help retailers transform data collected from multiple channels into actionable insights into the business, its customers, and their present and future needs and wants.
The power of analytics tools lies in their ability to go through high volumes of data and spot patterns and trends that the naked eye wouldn’t see. Employees working in marketing and merchandising can understand when and how their customers shop on each channel, and what products and displays catch their eye. They can then use these insights to adjust the product assortments, decide the most fitting marketing strategies and put the right product in each customer’s hands, faster. For replenishment and assortment planning managers, AI-powered demand planning software is a tremendous asset. It simplifies their jobs, helping reduce uncertainty and risk, as well as the complications coming from future modelling calculations.
Empowering employees to deliver great experiences
Employees are the face and heart of your retail brand. If your employees are satisfied, happy at their job and empowered to do their best, they will transmit knowledge, personal attention and enthusiasm. It goes without saying that to build a positive work culture you need more than a technology fix. But once you have set the foundations (transparent communication at all levels, a good work-life balance, encouraging employees’ contributions), the right technology will help you bring this culture to life and sustain it, providing your people with the tools and ability to be empowered.
If you want to know more about how the cloud, unified commerce and intelligence can transform your workplace to deliver better working and shopping experiences, contact our team of experts.