Retail is predicted to be one of three sectors most affected by automation (along with manufacturing and construction). According to a study by PwC, up to 34% of retail jobs (2.25 million roles) will have been displaced by automation by 2030. Another recent study by Oxford University determined that there is a 92% probability of front-line retail workers being ‘technologised’ over the coming decade.
This will throw up different challenges for retailers who are currently struggling to attract, recruit and retain the volume of employees they need. The solution, ironically, lies in automation. By taking lessons from elsewhere in the sector, retailers can attract candidates that are right-fit for the new retail model.
How is the retail model changing?
“If all I’m going to get as a customer is a self-service transaction, why would I bother going to the store in the first place? Why wouldn’t I just stay at home and not deal with traffic, parking, and other customers?” asks digital retail analyst, Nikki Baird.
The high street needs to offer a different proposition to the online store; the goal of the bricks-and-mortar store is not to “create a slightly more tactile version of the e-commerce site” and so the high street needs to compete for customers in other ways. The role of the store is changing, and so must the profile of the employees that work in them.
Here’s how we’re helping our clients to use automation to help attract and engage with right-fit retail talent.
1. Reducing application time
Hiring volumes are high for frontline staff in the retail sector. At our recent roundtable event, one client explained that they receive 100,000 applications for 2,000 annual hires, another expects 200,000 applications for 40,000 hires. One of their key challenges is reducing drop-outs and renege rates from good quality candidates.
Creating a slick, engaging, online experience that makes use of automation to progress successful candidates is one way they’re improving hiring success. Read more about our retail and hospitality roundtable.
2. Get people focused on the right things
The Guardian’s view on the future of retail is that automating more manual and repetitive tasks enables employees to focus on higher value, more rewarding and creative work. The same can be said for retail recruitment.
By using automation for repetitive tasks like interview scheduling and sending out assessments, we free up recruiters for more value-adding activities and reduce costs. Once right-fit hires have been identified, it’s time for the recruitment team to take care of the part that humans are best at – building relationships and nurturing future hires.
3. Better analytics
Retail as a sector uses sophisticated metrics to measure the success of its sales conversions. Dwell time, website traffic, bounce outs, and post-demographics all help retailers measure success. In recruitment automation, analytics provide equally valuable analytics on conversions from first engagement to on-boarding.
Analytics ultimately help companies identify and engage with the best candidates quickly. This helps to reduce drop-outs and renege rates and, by collecting data over time, enables organisations to build a picture of what right-fit looks like.
4. Brand differentiation
We’ve seen some big retailers rebrand recently in order to re-position and differentiate their brands. John Lewis and Waitrose are now ‘& Partners’ to convey their employee ownership model and Debenhams is aiming to show its turnaround in fortunes with its new identity.
Recruiters also have the opportunity to differentiate their brand through the recruitment process. By making use of automation recruiters can, for example, use video to show previews of what it’s like to work for the organisation instead of a job description, and they can ensure a quick response to candidates so they aren’t left waiting.
Employer brand and candidate experience have a direct influence on consumer brand so a positive recruitment experience, regardless of the outcome, is good news for your brand. LaunchPad’s recruitment automation platform is fully branded, meaning candidates have an engaging, consistent experience with your brand from the outset.
When we think about automation in the retail sector it’s easy to jump to images of Amazon’s robots or, the US phenomenon of Camper Force. For our clients, automation means making use of technology to get the right people on board, and being able to free them up to focus on customer experience.
We regularly hold networking events for the retail and hospitality sector - to find out more join our community of retail and hospitality recruiters.