Retailers Don’t Need to Look Far for Employee Engagement Tech Solutions
Perpetual and increasing competition, economic fluctuations, and constantly changing consumer expectations strain the retail sector harder than most industries. To combat these challenges, retailers have turned to technology — from analyzing big data to better connect with consumers to launching omnichannel strategies to reach customers at every point of their respective purchase journeys.
More recently, in true “necessity is the mother of invention” fashion, some retailers, like Gucci, entered the metaverse, rolling out virtual gaming experiences to sell products. The luxury fashion brand created its virtual Gucci Garden experience in May 2021 at the height of the pandemic. While many people around the world were still living with COVID restrictions, Gucci’s interactive virtual exhibit drew close to 20 million visits over two weeks.
According to the Accenture Retail Technology Vision 2022 survey, 86 percent of retail executives report their organization has adapted to the disruption of the global pandemic by finding a new normal. Therefore, despite the challenges of the last two-plus years, retailers have managed to keep customers happy and continue to open their wallets, whether engaging with brands in person or online.
Yet even with the silver linings in retail, there remain a few clouds, especially when it comes to employee retention. Frontline retail employee turnover has always been high, with some estimates placing that percentage at more than 60 percent annually. Recent McKinsey & Company research points to similar attrition levels reaching frontline retail managers. In its survey, McKinsey reported that 63 percent of retail managers are thinking about quitting their jobs soon, and many want to leave the industry altogether.
Omnichannel Starts In-House
There are numerous reasons frontline retail employees look for and accept new opportunities, from the standard better-paying options to more recent competition from flexible gig economy jobs. Retail executives simply can’t control or compete with all of the many factors causing attrition.
However, many of the same engagement philosophies and strategies that have helped build customer loyalty can apply to employees. This means that retailers who have long realized the importance of customer engagement have the technology tools in their arsenal to improve the employee experience.
Finding better and more efficient channels of delivering consistent and important company information can positively impact employee retention — from helping team members perform their jobs better to giving kudos and shout-outs that boost morale.
Digital Signage for Today’s Retailer
Retailers rely on digital signage to reach their frontline workers with changing prices, product information and other important updates. Today’s digital signage does more than display simple messages in retail breakrooms. Retailers can use the technology more dynamically, with the ability to change and deploy messages across different store locations and multiple geographies in a few clicks. The digital signage can also display QR codes for employees to receive important information without a corporate email address.
How One Retailer Modernized its Intranet
Many retailers looking at multiple employee touchpoints are re-evaluating their intranet, including one U.S.-based retailer with more than 2,300 stores across the country. Like most retailers, this retailer’s geographically dispersed team of associates doesn't work in traditional office settings. The retailer needed an efficient way to reach team members with company news, training materials and knowledge sharing. An updated intranet provided such a channel, enabling the company to reach employees whether they work in front of a computer or on the sales floor.
From Consumer to Employee Apps
Retailers are looking beyond consumer-facing apps by adding employee apps to their internal omnichannel communications strategies. Offering an employee app helps retailers give their workforce another valuable channel to drive employee engagement and satisfaction — at a time when many may feel disconnected from the corporate experience.
With retailers embracing the metaverse and moving to mobile, shopping is forever changed. Today’s retailers should also change and improve the employee experience to make retail a more engaging and sustainable career.
Scott Chao is chief growth officer at Appspace, which provides a unified workplace experience platform to thousands of global companies.
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Scott Chao is chief growth officer at Appspace, which provides a unified workplace experience platform to thousands of global companies. Before Appspace, Scott held leadership positions at DealerSocket, Stack Sports, and Cvent. He has an MBA from the University of Texas, Austin and dual degrees from Duke University.