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How Reskilling the Retail Industry Talent can Address Workforce Disruption

Reskilling January 5, 2023
How Reskilling the Retail Industry Talent can Address Workforce Disruption


Since 2013, retail companies have invested in increasing the tech skills pool in various functions.

  • Retail companies are competing to hire skilled individuals for various technical roles.
  • The demand for the roles of Supply Chain Analyst, Data Analyst, Data Scientist, and Full Stack Engineer has increased by 12%, 13%, 10%, and 12%, respectively.
  • The retail sector is finding ways to retain its tech talent with a focus on achieving various business and organizational objectives.

  • Retail companies must reskill roles susceptible to disruption, such as Customer Service Agent, Store Supervisor, and Logistics Specialist, to Supply Chain Analyst.
  • Companies can save up to 50% of the talent acquisition cost by reskilling their existing employees.
  • This report includes top talent locations, talent size, top skills, in-demand roles, cost, and gender diversity. It discusses how organizations can reskill disrupted/digitally impacted jobs.

    Download the report.

    This graphic shows traditional and modern retail operation methods.

    Today’s customer wants both a product and a great experience. Hence, retailers must introduce a new dimension through IoT, augmented reality, data analytics, and 5G to innovate fast, use data to satisfy customers, and decrease costs. 

    Walmart, Kroger, and Amazon are exploring self-checkout technology to improve brick-and-mortar shopping. Retailers are using warehouse robots to speed up delivery times. Retail is ripe for automation on all fronts. 

    Automation has become vital and strategic. 

    These changes are putting pressure on talent management leaders in unexpected ways. 

    The Human Factor in Retail Automation 

    Self-service technologies have caused widespread job loss anxiety. A report said the retail sector could see 6 to 7.5 million retail jobs automated by May 2027. 

    Intelligent systems may surpass humans in big-picture thinking, manual tasks, and empathy. However, people with interpersonal and technical skills will be needed, and the best place to find them is within the organization. 

    Talent management leaders who think about skills and abilities, not job roles, can best determine when the business needs a human touch. 

    Innovative learning programs fill gaps that recruitment cannot. Employers benefit, and workers who want new skills are motivated. 

    There will be new pressures for retail talent management leaders. 

    Technology will not eliminate jobs, but it will create skills gaps. When manufacturing needed more technical workers, it made reskilling necessary. The skills gap made ‘corporate colleges’ necessary to fill vacancies. 

    This forces talent management leaders to be more strategic: in addition to looking elsewhere for skilled individuals, they must be data-driven and help design learning programs to meet skills needs. 

    Strategically Navigating Through Disruption with Reskilling 

    Let us look into how talent management can get the most out of their company’s reskilling investments. 

    Align Skills with Company’s Vision 

    Your company may be automating its stores or warehouses to provide consumers with a frictionless experience or to speed up e-commerce processing times to increase market share. 

    Understanding how automation solves a business problem and how drastically the business will change will help factor in the required skills. 

    When talent management examines business goals, skills gaps become clear. 

    Define the Gaps in the Organization 

    Next, determine who to reskill for an automated environment with these factors: 

    People – Quantify who will succeed in training and stay with the company long enough to use the skills. For retailers, this means separating temporary and casual workers from permanent or likely permanent workers. 

    Tasks – Deconstruct jobs into work elements, like tasks. Do this for sales associates, cashiers, warehouse workers, or programmers for smooth operation. Robots and AI can do repetitive, independent, physical tasks for low-skilled jobs but not variable, interactive, or mental tasks. 

    Time – Time to productivity measures how long it takes a new employee to become independently productive and the investment needed to reach business goals. 

    It is measured using historical data. If your company has conducted pilot projects, you can use this information to visualize time to productivity on a larger scale. 

    Set Objectives 

    Once you know how aggressively you must work to close gaps, set goals, such as 50% participation in a training program annually. This will help talent management teams determine how much budget the training program needs to meet business goals. 

    Look beyond participation rates to determine the training program’s success. Check for improvement in sales per square foot or e-commerce processing times. 

    Mitigating Retail Talent Disruption with Reskilling

    Software development is the fastest-growing retail job and the third most popular overall. The size of sales jobs fell from 33% in 2013 to 29% in 2017. At this time, engineering and IT jobs rose from 7% to 9%. 

    64% of retail CEOs sought new technology solutions, and 79% of companies planned to deploy them by the end of 2021. 

    The workforce suffered as retailers embraced technology to establish new business models and enhance processes. Hence, talent management took the initiative to regain their confidence and prepare them for the future. 

    60-70% of US consumers displayed an affinity for omnichannel experiences, so retailers banked on providing phygital experiences. 

    Case in point, Nike’s ‘NYC House of Innovation’ concept stores combined augmented reality (AR) and QR codes to give clients the impression of visiting Oregon’s Smith Rock State Park. Similarly, Love, Bonito’s Singapore store boasted an AR-enabled walkway. 

    Hence, retailers to provide customization and personalization are reorganizing. 

    A recent study revealed that organizations with digitally skilled staff are nearly three times more likely to have increased revenue growth by at least 20% over the prior three years. They are 5.4X more likely to sustain current growth rates over the next three years. 

    Therefore, reskilling and upskilling the staff will be a top focus for retail firms. And some retail companies have already begun to do so through internships and specialized training programs. 

    Retail technology and process interventions affect the workforce and create new tech-related roles, which include: 

    • Product Managers develop product lines and personalization across channels. 
    • Supply Chain Specialists optimize end-to-end process flows and supply chain visibility and increase responsiveness through cost-effective distribution networks. 
    • Data Scientists use analytics to gain customer insights for planning and decision-making. 
    • Digital marketers develop, design, execute, and measure targeted digital marketing initiatives. 
    • Store assistants serve consumers and use technology for order-restocking, checkout, and more. 

    Draup’s report demonstrates reskilling opportunities for disrupted job roles so that talent management can offer a career path. 

    The above infographic illustrates how talent management can reskill the current workforce to the example role of ‘Supply Chain Analyst’ and then move to more advanced job roles. 

    Individuals in the Logistics Specialist role can acquire supply chain management, project management, and demand planning skills to become a Supply Chain Analyst within six months. 

    Reskilling is necessary given the demand-supply gap in the core, analytics, visualization, planning, and management skills. Talent management can choose tailored reskilling programs to avoid encountering skills shortages in the future. 

    Draup is a talent intelligence platform driven by AI that delivers data-backed insights. These insights into the global talent pool, cost modeling, and reskilling pathways, can help talent management conduct company-wide reskilling initiatives.

    Lead the future with talent intelligence. Get in touch with us today.