Co-authored by: Jarek Matschey, EMEA director of retail, VMware & Johan Axén, CTO retail EMEIA, Fujitsu
When we asked leaders in retail what impact their workplaces were having on their ability to attract and retain new employees, 18% came straight out and said their workplaces were having a detrimental effect on the process.
And when we put the same question to those retail employees working on the shop floor? The same result: 17% said their current workplace has a negative or highly negative impact on their organisation’s ability to attract and hold on to talent.
So what can be done by retailers to better engage, empower, and enable their employees to be more productive on the shop floor?
Equip your staff with the right tech and training to do their job
Whether it’s wearables that notify staff of new customer requests, RFID readers to enable quicker product identification and stock check, AR-assisted repairs, or cloud-connected CCTV to map foot traffic and optimise visual merchandising, there are any number of ways in which staff technology will help provide an enhanced customer experience.
Retail workers agree: 66% of those interviewed for our End User Survey said they believe increased uptake of automation technology will help to boost productivity.
But of course this doesn’t begin and end with simply equipping staff with new tools and gadgets. Our Workplace 2025 research revealed that 86% of retailers also see complex workplace technologies as a barrier to productivity.
Staff need to be properly trained in new processes and, perhaps even more importantly, provided with a reliable, stable system support as well.
Provide a reliable, always-on support system
According to our End User Survey, 75% of retail workers are suffering major service outages weekly. It goes without saying that that this simply isn’t good enough.
If retailers are investing in a new digital approach, and asking their staff to get on board too, then being able to ensure stability and consistency for the technology being introduced is paramount.
Whether that support be in the form of monitoring and maintaining back-office systems, or being on hand to offer employees quick fixes, retailers need to be confident that they won’t be left in the lurch.
Empower your shop floor employees with data
Increasingly, customers are coming to stores better-informed about what they’re buying than the shop assistants they’re buying from. They’ve researched the products, read reviews, surveyed the market.
As a result, their expectations of the staff they interact with when visiting stores are raised.
Retailers need to use technology to enable and empower store associates: real-time connectivity between devices and store databases can put all the information they need at their fingertips, ready to assist customers with even the most specific requests.
And data doesn’t just have to mean stock levels and SKUs either. Retail spaces generate huge amounts of data that can be used to optimise the customer experience.
All of this requires robust connectivity and security (particularly the latter, given the trend towards BYOD in the retail space), and to have the right priorities for network traffic in place – credit card transactions will always be first, but what about click & collect pickups, or more specialist, high bandwidth tasks like in-store kitchen designs?
Ensure seamless product lifecycle management
Once your customers and employees are used to a certain level of service, it follows that they’ll continue to expect that service. This means retailers need to stay on top of lifecycle management for their new digital solutions.
Not only is this critical from a customer experience point of view, it of course has security and usability implications too.
And as retailers look to expand and scale their digital offerings – adding new systems and features along the way – they need to be confident that experiences will be consistent for customers across all locations.
This is as much a tech issue as it is a service management one, but something that forward-thinking retailers should be more than capable of achieving, with the support of a dedicated technology partner.
Use technology to adapt traditional processes, and maintain focus on the customer
Technology can be used to augment, improve, or in some cases completely transform existing processes. But too often it can be used just for the sake of it and without any real direction or positive impact.
If retailers are to make the most of any investment into new technology solutions, they need to ensure what’s being implemented is designed to work first and foremost for the customer. Retailers must firstly transform their operations to drive efficiency and performance in their current processes, from back office to the front of the store.
With this in place, their store associates will be free to deliver the informative and immersive in store event that today’s consumer’s demand.
AR-enhanced dressing rooms, interactive mirrors, in-store mobile payments for frictionless checkout – these are just a handful of innovative ways to empower your employees to enhance the customer experience.
But providing these new experiences will often mean providing systems and support that help employees do their jobs better too. Whilst remaining agile and responsive in the face of constant change, you must engage, enable and empower your store associates to ensure they are equipped and trained to deliver success in your stores.
To find out more about Fujitsu’s Total Managed Store services, visit: http://totalmanagedstore.com/
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