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A Guide to Hiring Digital Retail Talent in 2023

  • With the rise of Metaverse, eCommerce, Mobile shopping, and hybrid stores, HR has to adapt their strategies for the modern world.
  • To recruit and retain digital retail talent, HR must overcome the talent gap, competitive hiring ecosystem, high training costs, and poor retention.
  • Key digital skills needed in retail include AR/VR, Data Analysis, Digital Marketing, eCommerce, AI/ML and more.
  • Targeting non-traditional sources, outsourcing talent efforts, hiring early-career talent, and more are some of the top hiring strategies for digital retail talent.
  • 70% of retailers plan to boost their digital transformation efforts, while 38% plan to simultaneously hire digitally-enabled talent to support these initiatives. 

    Retail has been severely impacted by the rapid digital revolution in the last five years. While such disruptions have occurred before, and the industry was successful in managing them, the digital revolution is an entirely different challenge.  

    In the face of digital disruption, retailers of 2023 must proactively differentiate themselves by staying ahead of the curve and making bold investments to remain competitive.  

    One area of focus for many retail organizations is the intersection of the consumer, the product, and talent. All three of these elements must be digitalized simultaneously to enable a seamless retail experience. 

    While sales, marketing, and customer experience teams are moving ahead with pace, HR needs to identify latest trends and develop informed talent strategies to build a digital retail workforce.  

    With the rise of Metaverse, eCommerce, Mobile shopping, and hybrid stores, retailers have to reinvent their talent strategies for the modern world. By equipping employees with the necessary digital skills, retailers can improve their ability to innovate, make data-driven decisions, and provide customers with quality experiences. 

    Challenges in Hiring a Digital Retail Workforce 

    While the importance of hiring a digital-skilled workforce in the retail industry is clear, businesses face several challenges when trying to hire retail employees. 

    Significant Talent Gap

    As technology continues to evolve, there is a high demand for employees with digital skills in areas such as data analysis, eCommerce, digital marketing, and artificial intelligence. However, the supply of such talent is often limited, making it challenging for retailers to find the right candidates. 

    Competition for Digital Talent

    Companies across all sectors compete for employees with digital skills, making it challenging for retailers to attract and retain the best talent. In many cases, candidates with digital skills may receive multiple job offers, leaving retailers struggling to offer competitive compensation and benefits. 

    High Training Costs

    While attracting candidates may be possible, retailers often need to invest in training to upskill their employees to meet their specific needs. This can be costly, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses. Using an AI-powered talent intelligence tool for reskilling employees can save up to 50% in talent acquisition costs compared to external hiring. 

    Low Retention

    Employees with digital skills are in high demand, making it easy for them to leave for better job opportunities or more attractive compensation packages. As a result, retailers must offer competitive compensation and benefits, opportunities for growth, and a positive work culture to attract talent. 

    Key Digital Skills Needed in Retail 

    While a range of digital skills are needed in retail, here are a few of the key skills that may be required much earlier. 

    Data Analysis and Insights: Retailers need employees who are proficient in using analytics tools to analyze sales data, customer feedback, and social media analytics. 

    Digital Marketing: Businesses need to execute effective campaigns through email marketing, social media, and search engine optimization (SEO) to drive traffic and sales. 

    eCommerce and Mobile Commerce: Retailers need employees proficient in managing online stories, optimizing product listings, and ensuring a smooth checkout process.  

    Customer Engagement: Businesses require skills in social media management, online chat support, and the ability to use customer data to create targeted promotions and offers. 

    AI and ML: Employees with AI/ML skills can help retailers implement technologies such as chatbots, recommendation engines, and predictive analytics. 

    AR/VR: As virtual showrooms enter retail, companies may also require talent to build and manage immersive, engaging customer experiences.  

    Strategies for Hiring a Digital-Skilled Retail Workforce 

    Hiring digital talent is essential for retailers to remain competitive in today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving retail industry. There are multiple approaches that retailers can take to attract and hire digital talent, including: 

    Recruiting from Non-Traditional Sources

    Instead of relying solely on job postings and resumes, retailers can broaden their search by reaching out to coding boot camps, hackathons, and online communities.  

    They can even hire adjacent talent and gig workers on a temporary basis to achieve digitalization. These non-traditional sources can provide access to a wider talent pool, including those without a traditional path. 

    Outsourcing to Digital Agencies

    Retailers can also choose to outsource their digital needs to specialized digital agencies. These agencies are equipped with a team of experts in areas such as digital marketing, web design, and eCommerce.  

    Outsourcing allows retailers to benefit from the expertise of professionals without having to make other significant investments. 

    Collaborating with Educational Institutions

    Another approach is collaborating with educational institutions to create internship programs, sponsor student projects, or offer guest lectures. This is a highly cost-effective approach to hiring digital talent. 

    This can help retailers build relationships with institutions, access emerging talent, and influence the curriculum to align with industry needs. This is also a fantastic opportunity to market the brand to a younger audience. 

    Referrals and Networks

    Retailers can encourage current employees to refer potential candidates. This can be an effective way to find talent that has been vetted by people they already trust.  

    Retailers can also attend industry events, meetups, and conferences to network and find potential candidates. Active referral and networking can help retailers find qualified talent without having to seek candidates. 

    Early-Career Talent

    Retailers should also prioritize early-career talent as they represent the largest available workforce. Research suggests that early-career talent brings a strong work ethic, a focused mindset, a sense of purpose, and a flexible approach to work.  

    They are generally more adaptable and open to new approaches than older talent, who may be set in their ways. Furthermore, this tech-savvy group is usually proficient in technology and may not require extensive training. 

    Cost-effective Internal Training

    By investing in their current employees and reskilling them with the necessary digital skills, retailers can create a workforce that is equipped to meet the demands of the industry.  

    Reskilling can also help to improve employee retention rates as employees feel valued and have opportunities to grow within the organization. 

    Other Innovative Strategies

    Finally, retailers can adopt innovative recruitment strategies to attract digital talent. This approach can include using social media platforms to directly promote job openings and create targeted campaigns.  

    They can also use digital tools such as gamification, virtual reality, and chatbots to create unique recruitment experiences to attract the attention of digital talent. 

    Draup is atalent intelligence platform with over 4500 job roles across 30,000 skills in 33 industries. Draup‘s extensive database consists of comprehensive data on over 100,000+ courses and career paths specifically designed using AI and ML models to suit every employee and redefine talent management from the core.