Don’t fear technology, use it to help get the most from your retail team and let them understand how it can make their jobs better.
It is understandable that during a time of radical change in the industry, retail staff will be keen to know the impact new technologies could have on their jobs.
Consumer habits have changed dramatically in recent years as people embrace new ways of shopping and have different expectations, meaning that retailers have to find new ways of offering an improved and differentiated customer experience.
This is bound to impact the work retail staff do and the technology they use.
The British Retail Consortium has said it believes technology will create exciting new jobs.
As parts of the retail sector are automated, staff will be free to be more creative in their roles and spend additional time helping customers.
AI can help with day-to-day tasks
Today retail staff need to spot gaps on shelves, update shelf-edge labels and search the warehouse for customer requests.
If technology can do those tasks for them, they have more time to spend with customers on a one-to-one basis, understand their needs and give them the best possible experience.
However, simply rolling out new technology and expecting staff to adapt is not realistic. It requires leadership to help teams identify new opportunities and achieve them; it takes a change of culture, led by the top of an organisation.
As retailers embrace digital transformation, some things will stay the same – notably, placing customers at the centre of their business. This is likely to lead to the creation of exciting new roles.
“With technology such as AI handling the repetitive tasks, businesses can make people the face of their operations and provide real customer value”
What about a ‘chief storyteller’ welcoming consumers in store with on-brand messages and interesting product information – and why can’t everyone have a personal shopper?
With technology such as artificial intelligence handling the repetitive tasks in stores, businesses can make people the face of their operations once again and provide real customer value.
You can give your staff the time to become ambassadors for your brand, with information at their fingertips on everything your customers want to know, and the time for a conversation that enhances their shopping experience. These are the types of rewarding and useful jobs retailers are now looking to support.
There will also be plenty of job opportunities off the shop floor too. Data scientists, programmers and cyber-security experts are highly sought-after roles.
Brave new careers
Retail is much more than a fantastic foothold on the career ladder for many school-age students and those looking to supplement their studies with paid work.
The advent of AI and other technologies will make day-to-day tasks easier to manage, giving staff the opportunity to work in new ways with customers in a career that they love.
It is a sector full of opportunity, and one that puts people power at the fore, supported by technology at its core.