The retail sector is currently facing a series of challenges, with some being longstanding and familiar, and others brought by more recent geopolitical and technological developments. With daily developments on the bricks vs clicks contest and increasing numbers of store closures, coupled with Brexit, skills shortages and consistently sluggish productivity, profitability is being squeezed and an atmosphere of uncertainty in the sector is building. However, a greater focus on the deployment of technology in the workplace will offer retailers the opportunity to completely reshape their working practices and revolutionise key operations. This is according to Kronos.
Despite these evident challenges, retailers have not yet fully embraced these technologies, meaning many have not yet taken full advantage of the power of comprehensive digital transformation. New technologies such as artificial intelligence, and virtual reality may be coming to the fore, but retailers also need to do more to acknowledge the availability of other solutions that are designed to help maximise the output of human workers, such as workforce management tools.
On this changing landscape, Neil Pickering, industry & customer insights manager EMEA at Kronos, says: “There’s no escaping the very specific challenges that the retail industry is facing and the sector as a whole has much to contend with over the coming years including Brexit, the National Living Wage, business rates, the relentless growth of omnichannel and fluctuating consumer confidence. Retailers will be forced to do what they can with limited or changing resources in the bid to stay ahead of their competitors. Workforce management has a pivotal role to play here, by empowering managers and employees to do their jobs more effectively.”
By placing greater emphasis on the adoption of the most innovative workforce management technologies, Pickering believes that productivity woes can be tackled, and retailers can offset the impact of factors that are beyond their control.
He added: “Technology is becoming more sophisticated almost by the day, so any workforce management solution should be taken on board with all of this in mind. Flexibility and scalability, allied to excellent performance and ease of use, are very much the order of the day. If all of this can be reached, retailers can put themselves in the best possible position to defy the current uncertainty and put themselves on a positive footing for future growth. These tools should be implemented as part of a wider strategy to empower employees and ensure that they feel valued in the work they are doing.”
Pickering concluded: “In a sector in which high turnover of staff and constant shortages of skilled labour are pressing issues, increasing productivity while guaranteeing employee fulfilment and happiness is paramount. Those retailers that lead a proactive approach in tackling these issues will build the most productive working environments, as they will be able to attract and maintain the best talent while ensuring maximum output.”