No other field has experienced as much disruption as retail merchandising. Digital disruption has been a mainstay in the field since the 2010s with the proliferation of social media & data analytics. However, today, retail is at a tipping point in transforming their merchandising strategies, especially when it comes to in-store strategies.
From analytics-driven action to focus on the customer experience and supply chain optimization, the role of merchandising as a bridge between consumers & products has received a much-needed digital facelift.
For example, retail giant Kroger launched smart shelves technology & app to give personalized product & pricing recommendations based on in-store retail analytics. Lowe’s launched an augmented reality-based in-store navigation app to help customers find the right products.
Such solutions are becoming more common in retail, and to meet the rising demand, stakeholders must identify these emerging trends and invest in new-age retail talent.
From Traditional to New-Age Merchandizing
Rapid digitalization efforts in retail to improve In-Store experience has also led to the transformation of the traditional merchandising approach.
Today’s merchandising workflow begins at Customer Behavior Tracking, which has supplanted traditional Consumer Research. This step is powered by tools such as Google Analytics, Adobe Experience Manager, and more before moving on to the traditional step of merchandise planning.
Even at the merchandize planning stage, modern procurement solutions such as GEP Smart & Klevu are being increasingly leveraged.
However, the greatest leap taken in new-age merchandising is the incorporation of the brand-new step of Merchandizing Analytics. Here, stakeholders can predict customer trends using data analytics and make recommendations for Product Pricing, Shelving, and Demand Expectations using tools such as IBM SPSS Modeler, SAS Advanced Analytics and others.
Consequently, the use of these modern tools has made a lot of job roles redundant and has caused a spike in the demand for other new-age job roles.
Impact of Digital on Retail Merchandizing Jobs
The incorporation of digital tools and technologies in Merchandising is giving birth to new-age skills.
Across the ecosystem, we are seeing redundant roles being replaced with emerging roles such as below:
- Procurement systems handling -> BI Reporting Systems Engineer
- Social Media Analysis -> Cross Channel Demand Prediction and Customer Behavior Analytics
- Spreadsheet handling ->Retail Inventory Management Systems and more
Retail companies are now seeking to hire specific Merchandising roles having latest digital skills and capability to cater to advanced workloads.
On average, there is an increased demand of about ~25% for the below technical skills:
- CRM Software handling
- Cross Channel Integration & Product Marketing
- Web Page optimization
- Data & Web Analytics
- ERP Systems
- SQL etc.
In line with these skillsets, Draup analyzed over 100 retail companies and compiled the below list of emerging job roles in the “Merchandizing” family.
- Merchandising Product Owner
- Space Planning Manager
- Visual Merchandiser
- Omnichannel Merchandising Manager
- Online Visual Merchandiser and more.
(Note that this list is not exhaustive. You may refer to the attached report for more details.)
Clearly, the digitalization of retail merchandising is in full swing. In-store experiences are gaining prominence, and retailers are now turning to new-age talent to help fulfill the demand.
However, there is an alarming lack of new-age retail talent. The world is starting at a talent gap of 4Mn+ by 2027. For retail, too, this figure is extremely distressing and is expected to only increase in the coming years.
To mitigate the effects of this talent shortage, many are resorting to reskilling/upskilling to ensure the viability of their existing talent pool
AI-Powered Reskilling to Bridge Retail Skills Gap
We have previously covered the benefits of reskilling in why we need strategies to implement employee reskilling. The fact remains that reskilling as opposed to fresh hiring results in cost savings of 20-50% and also has the benefit of improving employee satisfaction by over 80%!
With this and the need for new-age retail talent in mind, it makes sense for retailers to invest in reskilling/upskilling in a big way.
However, most are unsure of how such a reskilling journey would work.
Below, we have attempted to capture the reskilling journey of a role that will be in demand due to the digitalization of merchandizing – Visual Merchandiser.
Visual Merchandisers use analytics and advanced designing tools to provide a visually appealing In-store experience.
Their skillset typically includes:
- Data and Trend Analytics
- Inventory Stocking
- Brand Story Telling
- Graphic Designing Tools
- Marketing Research
And, they have a good knowledge of tools such as:
- Google Analytics
- HubSpot, Adobe experience manager
- SAS advanced analytics
- Adobe Photoshop, illustrator
- GEP Smart, Klevu
After analyzing roles at threat of immediate disruption, we narrowed down on the role of a Retail Sales Assistant.
A Retail Sales Assistant can be reskilled into a Visual Merchandiser role with Graphic Designing and Data Analytics skillsets. The complete reskilling journey has been mapped out below:
Draup helps global companies across 33 industries revamp their talent management pipeline and implemented a sustainable reskilling strategy.
Download the accompanying report on how traditional retail job roles that are at threat of disruption can be reskilled or upskilled to ensure talent viability, avoid talent shortage & improve both employer & employee experience in the long term.