Rethinking in-store employees


We all know the store is changing in terms of how the physical space is being used but this is not the only thing that we shall see adapt because the way store employees are used in-store is set for an upheaval too as a result of the impact of digital.

This is a key theme that has emerged at the various conferences Retail Insider has been attending  over recent months. There is a growing realisation that store employees will need to be deployed in a very different way as the role of the shop evolves to take into account the digital developments that are taking place in the retail sector.

At The Everywhere Store Conference, hosted by Tlantic in Madrid, senior executives from the likes of Desigual, Adolfo Domingo and Sonae, delivered the message that merely having sales advisors in-store, who are solely incentivised on the amount of goods they flog, was not going to be the way of the future.

Instead these people will have to be deployed more as relationship builders with customers whose primary role will be to support the shopper with information they might require on products and services. They will need to help deliver an improved, more intelligent, level of service in the stores.

This will require different training and a change in mind-set. It will also potentially require a different type of person on the shop floor who has a broader range of skills than is typically found at present. They will likely involve a higher rate of pay being dispersed for the more complex skill-sets demanded. With the Working Wage on the horizon in the UK a higher rate of pay is being forced on retailers anyhow, whether they like it or not, so this might well be another prompt for change of the shop floor.

Over in Rome at the World Retail Congress last month Kip Tindell, CEO of The Container Store, also highlighted how he is mulling over changing the way he utilises in-store employees as a result of the ramifications of digital. This will likely involve fewer – better – people.

He suggested it was up to retailers to begin hiring better people – who can be more productive through the receipt of improved training: “We need to do less bottom-feeding on liveable wages. It is in the interest of retailers to do more training and pay higher wages. We need better technology and better sales people so we now have a concept for having fewer people making more money and being more productive.”

As sales continue to move online retailers need to begin to seriously come to some conclusions about who exactly they need on the shop floor and what exactly they should be doing because the role of the store will continue to evolve way from being a direct sales vehicle.

Glynn Davis, editor, Retail Insider


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