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Entry Level Tech Talent in Retail Industry
Entry Level Tech Talent in Retail Industry

 

In today's ever-evolving digital landscape, the retail industry is experiencing a growing demand for entry-level tech talent. As technology continues to reshape the way we shop and conduct business, retailers are recognizing the critical role that tech-savvy employees play in staying competitive. This blog post aims to shed light on the importance of embracing entry-level tech expertise in the retail sector, exploring key aspects that contribute to success.


1. Embracing Rapid Technological Advancements:

The retail industry is at the forefront of rapid technological advancements, with e-commerce, data analytics, and AI-powered solutions taking center stage. As reported by Statista, global e-commerce revenues are expected to reach an astounding $6.54 trillion by 2022. To capitalize on this trend, retail businesses need tech-savvy employees who can effectively manage and leverage these evolving technologies.


2. Elevating the Customer Experience:

Tech talent plays a pivotal role in enhancing the customer experience within the retail industry. According to Salesforce, 64% of consumers now expect personalized experiences based on their purchasing history. By harnessing digital expertise, retailers can deliver seamless omnichannel experiences, personalized recommendations, and optimized website and app interfaces. Ultimately, this results in increased customer satisfaction and higher sales.


3. Empowering Data-Driven Decision Making:

In the data-driven business landscape of today, retail businesses heavily rely on data analytics to make informed decisions. Tech experts equipped with data analytic skills can provide valuable insights into customer behavior patterns, sales trends, and market research. Leveraging this data-driven strategy, retailers can optimize inventory management, pricing tactics, and marketing initiatives, thereby enhancing operational effectiveness and driving revenue growth.


4. Safeguarding Cybersecurity and Data Protection:

As the threat of cyber attacks looms larger, cybersecurity and data protection have become paramount for retail businesses. According to Juniper Research, the average cost of a data breach for retailers is projected to reach a staggering $11.4 million by 2025. Entry-level tech professionals well-versed in cybersecurity can implement robust security measures, safeguard consumer data, and prevent costly data breaches. Their expertise is essential in preserving a brand's credibility and customer trust.


5. Navigating the Digital Transformation Journey:

The retail industry is undergoing a profound digital transformation, fueled by technological advancements and evolving consumer expectations. Embracing this transformation can lead to a 20–30% increase in customer satisfaction and a 20–50% improvement in operational efficiency, according to McKinsey. Tech talent plays a crucial role in driving this change by implementing new technologies, integrating systems, and optimizing digital processes, enabling retailers to stay ahead of the competition.


6. Fueling Innovation and Gaining Competitive Advantage:

In a fiercely competitive retail landscape, innovation is the key to success. Tech experts bring fresh perspectives and creative concepts to the table. By harnessing their skills and creativity, retailers can develop unique solutions, explore emerging technologies, and create unforgettable customer experiences. With their capacity to innovate, retail companies can position themselves as leaders in their respective industries.


7. Harnessing the Power of E-commerce Expansion:

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the growth of e-commerce, making a strong online presence essential for retail businesses. Building and managing e-commerce platforms, improving user experiences, and implementing digital marketing strategies all require the expertise of tech talent. In 2020 alone, e-commerce revenues worldwide were estimated to increase by 27.6%, according to Digital Commerce 360. To capitalize on this growth, retail businesses must have entry-level tech professionals who can effectively support their online operations.


8. Unlocking Technology-Driven Efficiency:

In an industry characterized by narrow profit margins, operational efficiency is critical. Tech expertise enables automation of manual procedures, implementation of efficient inventory management systems, and optimization of supply chain operations, all of which result in reduced costs and increased productivity. A study by Deloitte reveals that digital transformation efforts can lead to a significant 2.9% increase in profit margins for retailers. By embracing technology, retail companies can improve productivity, minimize errors, and ultimately boost their profits.



As the retail industry continues to evolve in the digital age, the demand for entry-level tech talent is on the rise. To stay competitive and meet the ever-changing demands of consumers, retail businesses must recognize the importance of integrating tech expertise into their workforce. From leveraging rapid technological advancements and enhancing the customer experience to empowering data-driven decision making and safeguarding cybersecurity, entry-level tech professionals bring invaluable skills and insights to the table. Moreover, they play a pivotal role in driving digital transformation, fueling innovation, and navigating the expanding e-commerce landscape. By harnessing the power of entry-level tech talent, retail companies can position themselves as industry leaders and ensure their long-term success.



Retail employee turnover
Cost of Frontline Employee Turnover

 

Have you ever walked into a store and felt a sense of déjà vu? Same products, and the same look, yet something feels different. Maybe the friendly store employees that you’ve seen during your store visit in the last 3-4 months are missing. Unfortunately, frontline employee turnover in the retail business is an all too common phenomenon.


The retail industry is one of the most dynamic sectors in the economy, with a massive workforce that caters to the needs of consumers. However, the industry faces a significant challenge in retaining its frontline employees. High turnover has become a widespread issue and it's affecting the industry's bottom line. The top five reasons frontline employees leave their jobs are lack of career development opportunities, not enough workplace flexibility, health and well-being concerns, compensation issues, and a lack of meaningful work.


According to McKinsey, employee turnover among first-time retail workers remains high, with estimates ranging from 60-81%. That's a challenge for corporations, who regularly have to replace more than half of their store staff each year, costing them millions of dollars.


Frequent and significant turnover of frontline employees requires companies to constantly source, recruit and train new employees. This constant churn makes it challenging for companies to implement strategic and long-term initiatives or business changes, which can lead to decreased efficiency, productivity, and success for the company.


Here are some ways in which the retail industry is adversely impacted by employee turnover:


  • Recruitment and Hiring Costs: Retailers have to spend significant amounts of money to recruit and hire new employees. This includes advertising job vacancies, screening resumes, conducting interviews, and onboarding new hires. According to a study by the Center for American Progress, it costs an average of 20% of an employee's salary to replace them. For a retailer with a high turnover rate, these costs can add up quickly.


  • Lost Productivity: When a frontline employee leaves, the remaining employees have to work harder to maintain the same level of service. This often leads to burnout and decreased productivity. Additionally, new employees take time to become fully productive, which can impact the store's overall performance. According to a study by the National Retail Federation, the loss of productivity due to turnover costs retailers $19 billion annually.


  • Training Costs: Retailers have to spend time and money to train new employees. This includes teaching them about the brand, products, and services, as well as customer service and sales skills. The training process can take several weeks, and during this time, new employees are not fully productive. According to a study by Training Magazine, the average cost of training a new retail employee is $1,886.


  • Customer Experience: Frontline employees are the face of the brand, and their interactions with customers can significantly impact the customers' experience. When a knowledgeable and experienced employee leaves, customers may have to deal with new employees who may not have the same level of expertise, leading to a negative experience. According to a survey by Salesforce, 76% of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations. If retailers can't deliver on this expectation, they risk losing customers and damaging their reputation.


  • Employee Morale: High employee turnover rates can negatively impact the morale of remaining employees. When they see their colleagues leaving frequently, they may feel insecure about their job security, leading to decreased job satisfaction and productivity. According to a study by Gallup, only 33% of US employees feel engaged at work. High turnover rates can further decrease this number, leading to a less productive and less satisfied workforce.


In summary, high turnover of frontline employees can interrupt a retailer's business and negatively impact its operations. It can increase training costs, reduce sales, lead to inconsistent customer service, lower employee morale, and decrease brand reputation. Retailers must address this issue by implementing strategies to retain their frontline employees, which can ultimately lead to a more stable and successful operation.


Stay tuned for our next blog, where we will discuss several strategies that retailers can deploy to minimize employee turnover.



Skill-based hiring
Skill-based hiring

Skill-based hiring aims to identify the most qualified and competent candidates who possess the necessary technical or soft skills to perform the job successfully, rather than hiring solely based on their educational qualifications or previous work experience. By emphasizing skills, employers can diversify their hiring pool and provide equal opportunities for candidates with different backgrounds and experiences to showcase their abilities.


The "Dismissed by Degrees" study conducted by consulting firm Accenture in 2017 found that many business leaders view a college degree as a proxy for a candidate's hard and soft skills, leading to a limited pool of viable candidates. Moving away from degree-based hiring to a competency-based approach can open up new pipelines for organizations struggling to find talent. Introducing objective means to evaluate an applicant's aptitude can provide employers with a more complete profile of a job seeker's qualifications.


In the technology sector, several companies have already recognized the drawbacks of degree bloat and shifted towards skill-based hiring. Tech giants like Accenture and IBM run apprenticeship and school leaver programs that enable employees to learn on the job and specialize in areas of their choice. Skill-based hiring also offers opportunities for people to transition between industries or return to work.


The U.S. government has also started rethinking the significance of formal degrees in hiring processes. In June 2020 and January 2021, the White House announced restrictions on the use of educational qualifications while hiring IT professionals, favoring a skills-based approach instead. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued guidelines on adopting skill-based hiring practices to fill federal government jobs in May 2022. Traditionally, the government relied on formal education or self-assessed skills related to educational requirements to determine a candidate's eligibility for hiring.


OPM Director Kiran Ahuja stated in a news release that "by focusing on what an applicant can do, and not where they learned to do it, skills-based hiring will expand talent pools by making it easier for applicants without a bachelor's degree to demonstrate their skills and help remove barriers to employment for historically underrepresented groups."


Research and studies show the following benefits of skill-based hiring for any organization:

  1. Reducing employee turnover: Skill-based hiring can reduce employee turnover rates by up to 39%, according to a report by the Society for Human Resource Management (Source: "The Advantages of Skill-Based Hiring" in August 2017). This is because employees who are hired based on their skills are more likely to feel confident and satisfied in their role, which can lead to increased job retention.

  2. Increasing productivity: A study by Harvard Business Review found that employees hired based on their skills are up to 30% more productive than those hired based on their educational qualifications or work experience (Source: an article published by Harvard Business Review titled "21st-Century Talent Spotting" in June 2014). This is because they possess the specific competencies needed for the job, allowing them to perform tasks more efficiently.

  3. Improving diversity and inclusion: Skill-based hiring can help increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace by providing equal opportunities for candidates from different backgrounds and experiences to showcase their abilities. According to a report by McKinsey & Company, diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform their competitors (Source: A research report published by McKinsey & Company titled "Diversity Matters" in January 2015.)

  4. Saving Costs: According to a study by Deloitte, companies that implement skill-based hiring can save up to 50% on recruitment costs due to reduced turnover rates and more efficient hiring processes. (Source: A research report published by Deloitte in 2017, titled "High-Impact Talent Acquisition: Key Trends and Best Practices.")


Skills based hiring also opens up pathways to well-paying careers for individuals who may have been overlooked in the past due to strict degree requirements, helping to reduce inequity and create a more diverse workforce. More than 60% of Americans do not have a bachelor degree. When looking at the Black and Latino communities, that rises to over 80% without a degree. By focusing on skill-based hiring, companies can help to level the playing field for all job seekers.


In response to the growing demand for skill-based hiring, LinkedIn introduced "Skills Path" in 2021, a new tool that helps recruiters evaluate candidates based on their proven skills. This innovative approach combines LinkedIn Learning courses with Skill Assessments to create a more equitable hiring process that focuses on candidates' abilities rather than their academic qualifications or work experience.


To begin the process, recruiters are asked to identify the skills required for a specific job profile. Then, using LinkedIn's Skill Assessments, candidates applying for that role are quickly evaluated for their skills, and any skill gaps are identified. LinkedIn then recommends the appropriate learning courses to fill those gaps.


Once a candidate completes the course and associated coursework, their profile is made available to recruiters for further evaluation. By taking this multi-step approach, LinkedIn is helping to create a more inclusive and equitable hiring process, where candidates from diverse backgrounds have a better chance to showcase their skills and succeed.


Overall, LinkedIn's Skills Path represents an important step forward in skill-based hiring, providing recruiters with a more reliable and efficient way to evaluate candidates based on their skills and abilities.


By leveraging LinkedIn's approach, any company can create or improve their own skill-based hiring process.


This process typically involves four steps:

  1. First, companies should identify a pool of potential candidates who may be suitable for the upskilling or reskilling and promotion

  2. Next, companies should establish a robust mechanism to assess the candidates' skills. This may involve using standardized tests like completing a project specific for the role, conducting interviews, or other methods like hackathons to evaluate the candidates' abilities.

  3. To ensure that all candidates have the opportunity to succeed, companies should provide job applicants with access to learning opportunities, such as training courses or on-the-job training, to help them develop the skills they need for the role.

  4. Finally, companies should select the best candidates based on a final skill-based evaluation. By following these steps, companies can build a talented workforce that can drive success and growth while minimizing turnover rates and recruitment costs.


P.S. We at Escalate help companies to streamline skill-based hiring, especially helping them to identify and train the right internal talent for their hard-to-fill entry-level tech jobs. For more information, please visit www.escalateusa.com



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