By  on June 13, 2018

Given the growth of e-commerce, retailers, fashion and beauty brands have responded by shoring up their ranks — from frontline sales associates to across the c-suite — with staff and executives who have digital experience and expertise.The result has been a transformation of the traditional retail model — from a human capital perspective. This includes training and education taking on a greater role as companies respond to the digital demands of a consumer-centric environment. As a result, staffing agencies and executive search firms expect the future of retail and fashion hiring to align with a "digital-first" approach across the industry.Additionally, in the so-called "gig economy," contract workers springing from one job to another is only expected to grow. Meanwhile, last week's job report showed that there are more jobs available than there are people to fill the positions. But economists noted that there's a disconnect between the location and skills requirements of the 6.7 million job openings with those looking for work.One thing is clear, though: as the digital economy evolves, the demands on the workforce are changing. Laura Ceccato-Chopp, global senior vice president of retail, fashion and travel at Aquent, said the digital transformation "has had a huge impact on hiring trends across the fashion, luxury and beauty industries globally.""Clients are now looking to hire specialized digital talent that touches on everything from AI to social to POS and most importantly, digital marketing," Ceccato-Chopp said. "Essentially, anything focused on impacting next-gen digital experiences across all marketing and e-commerce channels."Ceccato-Chopp also sees changes afoot in the physical retail end of the business. "The other hiring trend we are seeing is a focus on elevating the brand experience through specialized pop-ups that drive sales in both bricks-and-mortar and online to increase customer loyalty and growth," she explained.Aquent works with global brands and retailers, helping them to execute creative, digital and marketing campaigns and projects via scalable workforce solutions. When asked how companies can be more strategic in regards to managing staff and planning for the second half (which includes the holiday shopping season), Ceccato-Chopp suggested rethinking current approaches."In order to be more strategic, the best retailers are focused on bringing core marketing, creative and e-commerce functions in-house while partnering with specialized firms to help them with scalability around digital execution," Ceccato-Chopp said.Sonia Summers, founder and chief executive officer of Beauty Barrage, which offers staffing solutions for beauty companies, urges brands and retailers to plan ahead. "You can’t start recruiting in October to cover your November and December in-store holiday demands," Summers said, adding that companies need plenty of time to "find the right candidates that understand your brand and have the time to properly educate them on it."

Summers recommends having at least seven to 10 weeks "built into your calendar to get the right people through the funnel."

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