You’ll need the best people to weather the storm of change in retail

The ongoing transformation of the retail sector is clear for all to see. Retailers need to find ways to reduce costs and increase efficiency, as wage costs rise with the National Living Wage, and consumer spending is being squeezed. At the same time, what shoppers want from retailers is changing in many radical ways.

Retail businesses need to attract the best people to navigate the new and fast-changing landscape to find the right solution. However, retailers are not looking for the check-out assistants and the warehouse staff, but highly skilled people for team-leader and managerial positions. The UK retail sector is set to create 54,800 jobs by 2020, with the majority (41,700) expected to be in managerial positions.

So, what are the changes facing retail? And what should they be offering talented millennials to attract them into retail away from the sparkling offerings of technology and finance?

4 changes and challenges facing the retail sector

  1. People are buying more online: Amazon’s UK sales more than doubled to $19bn between 2010 and 2017. But it’s not just Amazon. Online shopping has done well for a long-time in books and music for example, but easy return policies have made online shopping cheap, easy and risk-free for consumers in clothing.
  2. People are shifting their spending from things to experiences: Spending on clothes is down. Its share of total consumer spending has declined by 20% this century. On the other hand, travel is booming, hotel occupancy is growing rapidly, and restaurants are thriving.
  3. Shops need to change their experience: They need to be more than a store. By using their physical presence to advertise and promote their in-store offering and, increasingly advertise and promote their online offering. Increasingly shops have their online offering available in-store.
  4. Retail needs to embrace new technology: Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are likely to transform the retail experience. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be used to understand what individual shoppers want and personalise their shopping experience. Virtual Reality allows customers to try products in a created reality, so they can see how products look and operate in real life. For example, Converse have done this to allow their customers to try on their shoes.

Attracting the right people

It is obvious that a good salary, package and working environment is going to attract good people, but what makes that extra difference? It is this difference that makes an employer stand out to those employees you want to attract. Here are few of the top benefits offered by companies, according to a roundup from Glassdoor:

  • ASOS offer massive fashion discounts on its products of up to 40%
  • Google gives its staff free food from a whole range of cuisines in their restaurant
  • Pentland Brands has its own on-site gym and pool with unlimited usage and extended opening hours
  • Auto Trader UK offers discounted wine deliveries straight to its employees’ homes
  • The Body Shop offers its employees up to 5 days a year of paid volunteering, plus a significant 50% discount on its products
  • ARM Holdings offers its employees a 4-week sabbatical after 4 years employment
  • Huddle gives its new employees a £5,000 joining bonus

What is clear in the retail sector is that businesses need good people to address these challenges. To attract the right employees, companies will need to offer them innovative extras beyond the basic packages.

If you would like to discuss your retail business’ requirements further, please get in touch with one of our team on 01903 234094.

A version of this blog originally appeared on the website of one of our MHA association member firms, MHA MacIntyre Hudson.