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Stores Are Understaffed & Inefficient, Say The Workers Inside Them

New polls points to opportunities in AI, predictive business models.

News flash: Retail workers’ biggest gripe isn’t about their paychecks; it’s over the number of fellow workers in their stores, or lack thereof.

According to a new poll by REPL Group, a Texas consultancy specializing in workforce management, point-of-sale and digital signage, understaffing is the greatest source of frustration for retail employees.

Related: Retail Turnover May Cause Issues Over Black Friday

What’s more, over 80 percent of retail workers believe their job satisfaction would improve if their stores were managed more efficiently and their companies were better at forecasting.

Besides the 500 retail staffers surveyed, REPL also polled 1,000 consumers, who offered up some compelling predictions of the future for brick-and-mortar retail. Sixty-six percent of shoppers believe that there will be even fewer staff in stores by 2025, and that the personnel will be replaced by more automated processes, virtual assistants and VR technology.

See: Rethinking Experiential Retail

In addition, over 70 percent of retail workers agree that the checkout counter will no longer be the section of the store where the greatest value, advertising or customer retention will be found.

“The retail industry is at a pivotal point in its evolution, and one of the ripest arenas for artificial intelligence and predictive business models,” said REPL executive chairman Mike Callender. “We’re seeing how the physical, online and virtual worlds can intersect and create a beneficial consumer and employee experience. Innovative technologies can enhance employee engagement and staffing by more accurately providing automated systems to carry out menial tasks.”

He added: “Not only does this improve the customer experience by allowing in-store staff to do value-add activities, but it also saves costs and assists in answering what we’re seeing as the biggest management frustration – understaffing.”

REPL said the company is helping a number of retail clients optimize operations by leveraging AI and data science to gain a better handle on supply chain and workforce requirements months in advance — in many cases saving retailers millions in staffing requirements alone.