From staff shortages and recession fears to the cost of living crisis and the modern shop floor, Fourth examines how retailers can shine as they head into the golden quarter.

It would be remiss of any business owner, retail or otherwise, to look without caution towards the coming months. 

The impact of the cost-of-living crisis and a looming recession will be felt in the finances of businesses and customers’ wallets for the foreseeable future. 

In our latest research, Fourth surveyed retail leaders, employees and customers to see where their biggest worries lie, as well as the attributes of modern retail that are keeping them most engaged.

Below we dive into some of our survey findings, highlighting how retailers can keep customers coming back, whilst enhancing the employee experience ahead of the most crucial time of year for the retail industry.

Curbing staff turnover through engagement 

High employee turnover is synonymous with the retail industry. Our data indicates that hiring will be a key focus for 63% of retail leaders for the remainder of 2022, meaning engaging and retaining staff and customers will become a priority.

Ensuring that employees feel supported is one of the key ways to help retain them. Unfortunately, as it stands, only 20% of retail employees feel supported by digital and responsive scheduling.

“Hiring will be a key focus for 63% of retail leaders for the remainder of 2022”

This is where advanced workforce management technology comes in. By implementing digital scheduling and demand forecasting, employers can offer employees greater reliability and control over their work-life balance, which leads to happier employees that have a stress-free point of engagement with their employer.

Technology takes hold on the shop floor

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a gradual growth of technology adoption to support employees on the shop floor.

This includes labour demand forecasting, which helps businesses assess when those crunch times are, and when more employees are needed to provide that winning customer service.

Additionally, technology like advanced scheduling and increased communication options are bringing greater transparency between employer and employee, furthering engagement and support for the workforce. 

Our data shows resounding support for technology that offers more flexibility for the customer experience, most of all click and collect:

  • Two in 10 consumers feel it improves their shopping experience

  • Three in 10 retail leaders see this tech as most important to business success in the next year

  • One-third of retail employees believe click and collect is most likely to improve their job

It’s also worth noting that, ahead of the festive season, the data indicates consumers are favouring a blended retail experience that combines the ease of online shopping with the convenience of collecting purchases in-store.

With over half (52%) of consumers feeling there is not the right amount of staff on the shop floor, greater work is needed to find the synergy between technology and staff coverage in-store. 

Tackling the cost of living crisis

With inflation growing at an alarming rate and the high cost of living, our data shows shoppers are planning spending cuts across holidays, clothing and shoes, luxury items, and grocery purchases.

Whilst reduced spending is undoubtedly front of mind for any business leader, retailers need to deliver a winning customer experience by balancing both customer expectations and employee satisfaction, as well as the bottom line. So, what does this look like going into the latter stages of the year?

  • Keeping prices within reach of the customer, and being aware of the ongoing issues facing Brits’ expendable finances

  • Engaging with employees to ensure clarity on scheduling, offering earned wage access where possible, and creating channels for better communication

  • Implementing technology to help both of the above factors, as well as providing click-and-collect services that give customers greater convenience and drive them back to the store

If retailers hope to galvanize on this crucial season, they must look to tackle the issues that currently face the industry and its workforce head on.

This means not being afraid to invest in technology to help support colleagues through uncertain times, as well improve efficiency and productivity for the future. 

To see more data and insights on how to tackle the hurdles facing retail this winter, read our Navigating the retail industry today: Staff shortages, recession fears, cost of living crisis, and the modern shop floor whitepaper now.