Fighting for digital expertise

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Brought to you by Retail Insider and K3 Retail

Employment in the retail sector has been in the news over the past few weeks with the headlines highlighting the dramatic forecast that one million jobs will be lost from the industry by 2025.

Whatever the ultimate figure, there is clearly going to be some big changes taking place – with the big driver digital. But it is not going to be all about retailers taking their pick from a swathe of individuals desperate for employment.

When you get into the digitally-focused jobs such data analytics, digital scientists (whatever they are) and digital marketers then there is a serious dearth of talent. Normally in such circumstances the in-demand commodity determines the price in the market and these digital experts would therefore command serious salaries.

This may be true to some extent but unlike bankers it’s not really about the money. It is more about the challenge of immersing themselves in some serious problem solving and playing a part in major projects that are going to have a material  impact on the organisations in which they work.


Working hard to attract digital expertise

Gareth Jones, deputy CEO at Shop Direct, talks about creating an environment that “fires these guys up and gives them something to get their teeth into”. It is this that is bringing a new breed of employee into the company and giving Shop Direct the reputation with universities in the region that it’s a cool place to work.

Established companies like Shop Direct (with its long Littlewoods history) have a tougher time developing such a reputation compared with the newer kids on the block, which are starting with digital in their DNA. From day one they are all about setting meaty challenges to the technology-focused graduates they entice through their doors.

Healthy snacks retailer Graze is in this position. Anthony Fletcher, CEO of Graze, says that while the company has rapidly built up its capabilities it has attracted many geeks (i.e. coders and data crunchers) from within the City of London who have given up lucrative financial services roles to join the exciting innovative technology start-up.

Indicative of the way it works is the fact Graze launched into the US with only two developers on the case who were effectively set the challenge of getting the company up and running across the pond.

Such actions are partly down to limited finance and resources whereby serious responsibility falls onto the shoulders of fewer, and younger employees. Maybe handing out decent levels of responsibility to such individuals is what larger retailers should consider as part of their strategies for attracting the right calibre of digital specialists. If they don’t then the more agile players out there will continue to attract the cream of the digital crop.

Glynn Davis, editor, Retail Insider

K3 Retail deliver multi-channel solutions that enable retailers to create joined up shopping experiences for their customers whether they choose to buy on-line, direct, in-store or via mobile. It has over 20 years’ experience delivering award winning solutions, to more than 175 internationally recognised retail brands.