It’s a safe bet that the retail landscape will only get more competitive in 2019, forcing merchants to up their games with ever more aggressive tactics.
To help them prepare, Stefan Midford, founder and CEO of Capango, a retail recruitment firm, and Natural Insight, a workforce management solution, has identified three key tactics — not coincidentally related to his businesses — that he nonetheless believes will serve physical retailers well in the new year.
Based on what he described as his more than 40 years’ experience in retail execution and field management, here’s what Midford projects:
Excite, Engage, Execute
In an increasingly competitive market, success will require physical retailers to become much more aggressive in delivering great retail experiences that draw the consumer in and “fulfill the adventure of discovery,” he noted. This only works if the store is properly staffed with “knowledgeable and passionate associates who are ambassadors for the brand,” and can step up to help consumers make the best choices. Tight margins in retail will require that every retailer do the first two steps with a careful eye to perfect execution, he said.
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Win the Staffing War
Open positions in retail are at an all-time high and will only increase in 2019 as the economy continues to grow and the labor market shrinks, Midford said. To secure top talent, retailers will need to differentiate themselves in a crowded field and expedite the hiring process. This will require a change in tactics as “legacy old-school recruiting tools” can’t provide the speed and targeted personalization needed to locate the right hire quickly. “My advice to employers: rethink how you attract talent, but also ensure the interviewing and onboarding experience reflects the excitement and energy needed to get that new associate in your door.”
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Lots of attention has gone into how to allow consumers to use smart devices to facilitate buying decisions, but successful retailers in 2019 will also ensure their staff is equipped with the best possible devices — which often are already in their pockets. Midford said Walmart’s new bring-your-own-device (BYOD) strategy, below, is a perfect example of an aggressive shift in policy that supports staff as well as improves the consumer experience by eliminating barriers to getting the best information to the floor in real time.