Technology Forces That Transformed Retail Can Drive It to New Heights

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Omni-channel retail, borne of the advent of eCommerce, is the new paradigm for retail in the 21st Century. Its meteoric rise to dominance as a strategy is visible in the rapid decline and disappearance of retail powerhouse brands – many of which had existed for decades or more. Such dramatic and rapid change in the underlying business model of modern retail has had a predictably radical effect on the nature of workforce management in this industry. Here’s some insight into how forward-thinking retailers have recalibrated their workforce management strategies to adapt and survive.

In August of 2013, Aberdeen Group published a paper entitled, Omni-Channel Workforce Management: A New Reality. In the document, Aberdeen analysts noted, “omni-channel has changed the way retailers operate, with more and more customers using multiple channels to purchase products. Fifty-four percent of leaders, for example, enable customers to purchase, return and exchange a product through any channel.”

To achieve the competitive advantage that follows the implementation of an effective “anywhere, anytime retail philosophy,” retailers have had to embrace the tech tools required to support it. This means far larger portion of the workforce dedicated to IT skill sets. Developers to build front end sites for sales, back end sites for order management and fulfillment, secure financial processing capabilities, inventory and warehousing control systems and the integration of all these functions into the modern omni-channel retail platform.

Again, from the Aberdeen paper, “In the omni-channel retail environment, technology improvements have typically focused on supply chain visibility and marketing effectiveness. But leaders have begun to place an increased emphasis on linking workforce management with omni-channel success. Specifically, leaders have implemented automated time and attendance tracking solutions, competency management software tools, labor analytics, and fatigue management tools. Forty-five percent of leaders use an automated time and attendance tracking solution.”

The salient point being that these IT-heavy skill sets, already in high demand across nearly every other industry, have themselves had an outsized impact on how workforces are composed and managed. More emphasis on independent contractors, statement of work, and other classifications of workers, coupled with a much higher degree of remotely performed work, means tech like automated time and attendance tracking solutions, competency management software tools, labor analytics, and fatigue management tools are critical to a retailer’s ability to maintain an effective, modern workforce.

“Retailers strive to meet customer expectations by providing a consistent and seamless experience across channels” says Aberdeen and, “top performing companies [must] do the same for their employees.” What steps is your retail organization taking to ensure survival in the contemporary, omni-channel driven environment? Need help devising a plan? Ask your nextSource representative for a consultation.

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