Retailers Under Heavy Pressure

Alarm bells are sounding again for the retail industry. The survival of many shops is being threatened by changes in consumer behavior, the internet and the strain of slowing economic growth. Shopkeepers beware!

It cannot be denied that among others, the home furnishings sector is in dire straits, that book and record stores are steadily disappearing from the streetscape and that our youth will undoubtedly grow up without fabric shops in the picture.

Nevertheless, the reality of shifting circumstances is nothing new and retailers simply must learn to adapt or they run the risk of being overtaken from all sides by the situation and the competition.

Is There a Solution?

Earlier indications all pointed to the solution being in the synthesis of internet and retail shop, to the use of the newest technological gadgetry (like picture-taking mirrors in fitting rooms) and all sorts of mobile applications.

Meanwhile, the internet threat has been neutralized for the most part, since shopkeepers increasingly make use of the web as an advertising tool and means of communication. This way,customers are warmed up for a visit to the shop and are kept warm through social media.

The Retailer’s Blind Spot

However, what the retailer often overlooks is instead on the personnel front. In an effort to compensate for diminishing sales figures and increasing costs, a common choice of strategy is to hire inexpensive and inexperienced staff.

With this approach, the retailer is unquestionably putting the horse before the wagon. On the contrary, the shifting consumer behavior of the well-informed online customer demands even better service from the salesperson.

Invest More in Staff

To optimally inform and advise the customer, a well-educated and highly trained staff is crucial. Not only does this boost sales results, but also employee motivation. It both increases loyalty and lowers the incidence of sick leave.

A recent survey conducted under Google personnel revealed that a stimulating learning environment and the customary 1 on 1 contact with management were the 2 greatest motivators for their jobs.

This came as quite a surprise to the leadership of Google. Google is specifically known for their many perks for employees, such as a sushi-chef on staff, relaxation rooms with computer games, fitness facilities and the flexible work schedules.

Investment Pays Off

The retailer who responds to their staff’s desire to learn on the job and invests time and money in their training covers two bases at once.

  • it serves to motivate employees and
  • it addresses the changes in consumer behavior

Perhaps there is still one base left to cover. Shoplifting accounts for annual losses of more than 5 billion pounds within the retail industry and it’s estimated that 35% of that is committed by the shop’s own staff.

Wouldn’t this percentage be significantly reduced if employees were well-trained and as a result more highly motivated? And, wouldn’t the sense of morality also rise within a highly motivated team?

Does this then not rightfully lead to the conclusion that the “penny wise, pound foolish” approach of many retailers is, to a great extent, responsible for the problems in the retail industry?

Google auteur