With the world going increasingly digital, the way we shop has also changed. The advent of e-commerce platforms, such as Flipkart, Alibaba, Amazon and Lazada, has offered consumers a more convenient way of shopping. People are now able to find and buy whatever they need from the comfort of their homes, in just a few clicks. This change in shopping habits has resulted in a shift from brick and mortar stores to online shopping.
From unmanned stores to automated warehouses, retail is a sector where automation quickly found its way in. The transition to e-commerce along with automation in the retail sector, has had several implications on the talent marketplace. But even though a few traditional jobs have been allocated to machines, there are still a multitude of roles—such as customer service management, client relations and technical support—where people and their skills can add so much more value.
In this age of digital transformation, several new skills have emerged, making it imperative for organisations to catch up as they hire and develop their people. With a better understanding of the changing scenario, talent acquisition experts and retail professionals need to first identify, assess and bridge the skills gap so as to get the most out of these new trends.
Impact of emerging industry trends on the retail sector
The retail landscape is constantly evolving, so is its workforce structure—existing retail sales jobs are now being reinvented and newer opportunities are being created. From customer experience to digital marketing, there is a myriad of new possibilities available for professionals in this industry. However, some roles that earlier existed in the retail sector have given way to automation, leading to a decline in the share of hiring for sales professionals* from 11% in 2015 to 9.5% in 2019. To find their way around, retail professionals can either upskill within their current roles or retrain themselves for new jobs in e-commerce and other related sectors.
What does this mean for HR and business leaders?
The digitalisation of retail brings with it a chance for you to boost your company’s operations and processes. Be it directing talent strategies towards the upcoming roles or preparing talent for vertical mobility, there is a lot you can do as an employer. With automation increasingly gaining ground, you can now better utilise time and build workforce strategies, keeping in mind the evolving situation.
As an HR leader, you can help in upskilling your talent with the right training programs, so that they can get into more complex and strategic work. To future-proof your retail talent, you can plan better using data and identify the skill gaps. With the right approach, talent can easily be moved into new roles as they come up. You can also redirect them to areas like customer service that are more reliant on human qualities. You can also focus on strategic workforce planning, including attracting the right talent and ensuring that your organisation’s talent acquires the sought-after skills.
How can retail professionals elevate their role?
With retail moving into the digital space, there has been a surge in new opportunities. From Marketing Specialist to a Business Analyst, there is a wide range of roles to pick from. Business Development Specialist, Customer Service Specialist and Digital Marketing Specialist are some of the popular roles that you can consider to boost your career growth. And this is not all. You can also use your strong experience of dealing with customers and take up customer service roles, such as Operational Specialist and Technical Support Specialist.
We see many retail sales professional either upskilling and moving vertically in their existing roles or retraining themselves for the emerging roles in the industry. Equipping yourself with new skills, such as customer experience, digital marketing, data and market analysis, can help you seamlessly handle the changeover. Our data shows a 67% increase in customer service skills, a 49% increase in digital marketing skills and 45% for data analysis between 2018-19 amongst retail professionals.
When it comes to building a winning team, employers themselves look for a few specific qualities.
● Product knowledge: Become experts within your product space in order to be able to address more complex questions and provide
● Sales & marketing: Conceptualising in-store and online promotion to drive revenue
● Stock management: Improve processes to optimise stock management and reduce wastage
● Data analysis: Look at customer buying data and make recommendations for the future
The way ahead
Talent decisions that take into account evolving trends lead to better results. With the right data and insights, you can have a deeper understanding of the changing workforce composition, talent objectives and flows, which can help you plan better.
As a talent professional, you can adapt to these changes and leverage growth opportunities in the workforce with the right training programs. And guess what? You can also utilise your existing tools and resources to help employees develop the right skills, while taking on challenges that might come up as a result of a skills gap.
As a retail professional, be on the lookout for the new in-demand roles that have been created in the retail sector. This will give you a chance to boost your career growth and add value, even with changing times. In a world this competitive, staying updated on skills set gives people and organisations an edge.
*Titles used to define retail sales professionals: Retail Specialist, Retail Salesperson, Retail Sales Specialist, Retail Sales Consultant, Retail Consultant, Retail Associate, Retail Assistant, Salesperson, Sales Specialist, Sales Consultant, Sales Assistant, Sales Advisor