Tech investments help overcome staffing shortages during high-demand season

As fears of the pandemic have subsided, in-store shopping has somewhat returned to pre-pandemic conditions, as evident in store traffic during this year’s holiday season. According to research, retailers witness 30-45% extra sales during the festive season. Given the importance of the holiday season to the retail industry, staffing across business verticals has become critical for ecosystem players.

Staff shortages could have bigger impact on small businesses

The role of the physical store is constantly evolving, but it remains critical to the customer experience.according to a study, globally, shopper interaction with self-service solutions continues to increase, with nearly half of shoppers saying they have used self-checkouts and almost four in 10 using cashless payment methods. Similar trends were observed in India and other Asia-Pacific markets, with 47% of shoppers using self-checkouts and 46% of respondents opting for cashless payment methods.

For large retailers, the consequences of staffing shortages are likely to be minimal, limited to shifting staff from backstage to store fronts for a few hours. For small businesses, however, the impact could be significant and could hurt their bottom line, as some staff callouts could result in a full day of zero staff availability – and entire store closures.

Simplify operations between the back office and the front of your store

In small retail businesses, there are often few lines between storefront and back-office operations. The right technology can help ensure there is no disconnect between the two functions and increase efficiency when moving physical items back and forth in the store.

Equipping employees with enterprise-grade mobile devices can add valuable mobility and transparency to the inventory management process. The technology gives store associates on the sales floor insight into which products are available or scheduled to arrive, so they can ensure they can receive and replenish items when trucks arrive and better support customers. It also makes the entire inventory management process much less time-consuming and more accurate than in the past, which relied on paper and pen to track item locations, sales, and more.

Offers mobile checkout and more

Small businesses can increase automation and efficiency in inventory management, merchandising, and more by adopting retail-ready technology solutions, such as self-service kiosks or checkout lanes, ruggedized tablets with add-on point-of-sale (POS) modules, or with built-in barcode scanning instrument with a radio frequency identification (RFID) accessory.

Mobile technology enables a convenient and seamless customer experience, giving employees more tools to assist shoppers anytime, anywhere. For example, thanks to product knowledge, retail associates can provide a better experience by answering questions thoroughly and providing more information about products without leaving the customer.

Kiosks can also serve as POS terminals to process transactions more efficiently, while rugged tablets and handhelds can support employee-managed mobile POS. This helps avoid situations where a single employee is stuck behind a cash register while multiple customers in the store need attention.

Meeting the needs of colleagues

One way to overcome staffing shortages is to equip mobile devices with software to help automatically schedule employees or allow employees to automatically request replacements when they are unavailable for a shift. This will reduce the likelihood that only one employee will be in the store at any point in time.

Additionally, adoption of technology can help attract and retain a younger workforce, which is a long-term solution to current workforce issues.Millennials will soon make up around 75% of frontline workerswhile Generation Z, born between the late 1990s and early 2010s, is expected to account for 30 percent of the workforce by 2030.

Going forward, meeting the on-the-job technology needs of younger workers is critical to improving operations and maintaining a stable and engaged workforce. Fortunately, retail-ready technology is more accessible than ever for most small businesses. There are enterprise-grade appliances built specifically for the needs and budgets of small businesses, as well as cloud-based services that make deploying and managing hardware and software simple and affordable.



The views expressed above are the author’s own.

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