How Can Retailers Benefit From Technology During a Labor Shortage?
Nearly four years on from the COVID-19 pandemic, the retail industry continues to face challenges, specifically with labor shortages. Statista research shows that since the pandemic, the rising U.S. retail employment numbers have had a sharp decline, which is expected to continue, with U.S. retail staff predicted to have 500,000 fewer employees by 2026 as compared to 2020.
With brick-and-mortar remaining popular, retailers are expected to provide exceptional customer service in-store. However, with labor shortage issues continuing to loom, retailers need to find solutions to empower staff and satisfy customer needs.
The labor shortage has had a profound effect on several retail-related tasks, including increased checkout times, unstocked shelves, and underserved customers. As store associates struggle to keep up with shop floor demands, the lack of staff can negatively impact the customer experience.
Technology adoption allows retailers to cope with labor shortages and the challenges associated with them. Technologies such as advanced mobile point of sale (POS) and self-checkout systems help alleviate pressures on sales associates, while maintaining a streamlined and high-quality customer experience.
Mobile POS: Delivering Speed and Multifunctionality
Using mobile POS technology, retail staff can serve customers from anywhere in-store. Unlike traditional systems, associates are no longer tied down to one spot. Compatible with mobile devices and wider technology integration, mobile POS provides flexibility and ease when completing tasks.
Allowing customers to experience a faster and easier checkout process increases the quality of service they experience. Meanwhile, it gives staff the freedom to carry on with other tasks.
Mobile POS also has the ability to go beyond simply facilitating sales, providing insights into inventory and order management. This gives retail associates real-time access to wider store operations that better enable them to handle customer inquiries regarding product availability. Built-in order management features also allow retail staff to easily complete omnichannel orders, ensuring customers are kept satisfied in-store and online.
Overall, mobile POS enables retailers to significantly reduce the amount of time required to deal with customer queries and transactions, improving the overall customer experience while saving time for in-store staff.
Integrating RFID-Powered Self-Checkout
RFID-powered self-checkout terminals are proving to be an effective solution for creating seamless transactions without the need for staff assistance. RFID-tagged products enable customers to place their basket in a designated scanning area and instantly scan all items. This reduces the likelihood of errors and increases checkout speeds without relying on staff to conduct transactions.
With item-level RFID, retailers don’t need to worry about constantly monitoring potential theft attempts at self-checkout terminals. With products being tagged with RFID inlays, theft risks can be controlled thanks to the tags’ alarm-triggering capabilities. Additionally, this method of loss prevention also helps enhance customer trust at checkout. With RFID technology being able to identify and address shoplifting incidents, security teams can do their job more efficiently.
Time is of the Essence
Labor shortages have the ability to severely impact a customer’s retail experience, which in the long term can affect how the brand is perceived, along with its customer retention levels.
Operating with reduced staffing numbers, retailers must invest in the latest technologies that ease the burden on in-store associates. With the right solutions in place, retailers can automate select tasks and significantly streamline others, all while improving the overall customer experience. By investing in the latest POS technologies, retailers can achieve exactly that, setting themselves up for long-term success through improved customer relationships and more efficient operational processes.
Amber Hovious is vice president of marketing and partnerships at Teamwork Commerce, a leading omnichannel solution provider.