Retail shopping

Retail Systems Research’s report, “The Retail Store in 2017: The Change Imperative” revealed the driving factors that are forcing enterprises under. The survey polled nearly 1,300 qualified retail respondents who work in apparel categories and fast-moving consumer goods segment between February and March of this year.

The survey found that retail professionals are feeling most challenged by consumers’ price sensitivity (55 percent), the ongoing influx of e-commerce alternatives (50 percent) and lack of consistent store execution and customer service (54 percent).

The report found that most professionals are looking to invest in their employees to navigate toward success. “Retailers believe a big part of in-store success will come from hiring better people,” said the report. Fifty-four percent of respondents said they plan to educate and empower in-store employees using technology; 46 percent said they will divest more personalized attention on employees, and 45 percent will look to focusing on more convenient customer experience.

Coupled with enhanced employee relationships and premium new hires, respondents will likely turn to technology to relieve present friction points. The report said 50 percent of respondents will tap into retail technology to curate more efficient and fun shopping experiences for consumers; 48 percent will deploy new solutions to maintain or improve the general customer experience, and 42 percent said they will use new technology to bring digital experiences into brick-and-mortar locations.

New technology necessitates training for relevant employees. Forty-four percent of respondents said they would optimally like in-store managers to spend more than 30 hours on new training. In a perfect world, assistant store managers would carry the brunt of the new training — 49 percent of respondents said they will require them to undergo 11 to 30 hours of new training.

However, in execution, the study found that only 29 percent of store managers are undergoing more than 30 hours of new training; 48 percent of assistant store managers are spending 11 to 30 hours on technology refreshers, and only 19 percent of new store associates are receiving more than 30 hours of training.

This marks a huge misstep for many retailers. If new hires don’t undergo necessary on-boarding processes to ensure in-store experiences aren’t just consistent, but enjoyable, brands stand to lose consumer loyalty. “With this level of discontinuity between expectations for in-store employees and giving them the tools and techniques for working with people, technology or product, it’s no wonder store traffic and sales continue to plummet,” said the report.

The research also found that many retailers are still battling internally for revenue share, resulting in the cannibalization of their overall business. “Retailers are highly focused on preventing the loss of an in-store sale to a digital channel. Location-aware marketing, digital displays and endless aisles all win favor as ways to make the store experience both as exciting — and as fulfilling — as shopping online,” said the report.

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