In today’s retail narrative, one thing is clear: the customer should always be first. Retailers are doing all they can to create a customer-centric experience, deliver personalization and invest in any way to attract and keep shoppers. While this is essential to thriving in business, it’s worth asking: are employees getting left behind? Are the store investments you are making helping to build and maintain your dream team of store associates?
The hourly retail employee represents the U.S.’s 4th largest employment sector. Yet, too often brands don’t invest in this substantial and important workforce — opting to prioritize e-commerce, data transformations and other consumer-focused initiatives. Failure to strike a balance between customer and employee investment affects the moral and efficacy of a retailer’s employees, and the retailer’s ability to assist customers. Therefore, it’s essential that retailers explore providing associates with the technology that helps them succeed.
To nobody’s surprise, the retail sector is traditionally plagued with high store associate turnover. According to Hays Research, retailers stated that they had seen an increase in employee turnover in 2016. The survey also found that of all retail positions, hourly store employees had the highest turnover rate — 65% in 2016. This turnover comes with high costs associated with understaffing, hiring, training and more. As such, it’s extremely lucrative for retailers to keep talent around.
What’s more, a recent Salesfloor study found that 72% of hourly retail associates are more likely to stay with a retailer if they have the right technology and resources, and two-thirds said access to digital tools and technology is a must-have at a future retailer. Clearly, as much as shopper preferences are changing when it comes to the store becoming more digital, so are the needs of today’s store associates. Therefore, stores must invest in relevant technology and easy-to-use tools that can make a big difference in productivity and customer service.
Popular options include mobile devices, such as iPads where employees can find product information with the touch of a button in order to assist associates. However, while this helps associates assist shoppers more effectively, they’re expensive, bulky, not rugged and not completely effective in offering employees more time to spend helping customers.
We’re also seeing stores invest heavily in in-store digital initiatives. Register-free stores like Amazon Go, for example, are using advanced technology to improve the shopping experience by allowing the shopper to do the “heavy lifting” and ensuring that associates are free and specifically dedicated to helping shoppers. While these advanced and headline grabbing solutions certainly have the potential to help store associates do their jobs better, there are technologies available now that don’t require extensive training or major changes to the store’s operations.
Shelf-edge technology, such as electronic shelf labels (ESLs), can easily serve as a critical store operations tool, helping to free up staff to focus on better serving customers. Additional benefits include:
· Reduced costs: With digital pricing, retailers can save money on label printing and logistics costs while reducing their carbon footprint.
· Happier Associates: Free your team from laborious price changes that no one enjoys and accelerate tasks such as merchandising and inventory management. (Of note: Displaydata ESLs can be “flipped” before or after the store closes to show operational messages such as inventory levels and merchandising advice to help store associates complete replenishment quickly and further optimize operational efficiencies.)
By adopting ESLs for the store, associates will appreciate your investment in their success, be more likely to continue working for your brand, and customers will notice your dedicated workforce.