Alleviating the Holiday Retail Labor Shortage

Holiday Retail

As we head into the busy holiday season, retailers across the country are facing a historical labor shortage. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of job openings at the end of September was 10.4 million. The BLS also reported that a record-high 4.4 million people left their jobs in September. 

In the past, companies could simply raise wages and salaries to attract new employees. But, when hiring the next generation of retail workers, this doesn’t solve the problem. Instead, fixing retail labor problems requires embracing new workflows and improving efficiency in the short term, and rethinking the role of the retail worker in the seasons to come.

Gen Z and Millennials want greater flexibility and job engagement. Retailers must demonstrate that they value their employees while also delivering a superior customer experience to shoppers at peak times. Let’s examine some actionable steps retailers can take to relieve the impact of the labor shortage this holiday season.

Identify Peak Moments

Identifying peak moments where resources are strained helps both employees and customers. Once strains are identified, businesses can reallocate staff and retrain employees. 

Modern, mobile-friendly solutions like Homebase make it easy to manage employee scheduling, time clocks, and communication. This relieves pressure on employees and ensures that customer expectations are met.

Promote the appropriate usage of  self-service tools

When appropriate, your digital presence can be a useful aid as a self-service tool and provide immediate benefits for retailers. People are used to helping themselves online and combining digital and in-person knowledge creates a fun, hybrid shopping experience that makes life easier for both customers and employees.

Manage expectations by leveraging automation and digital signage

Automation and signage alleviate the number of employees and resources needed during peak times. Stay ahead of the surge with digital wayfinding that includes prioritized messaging for wait-time signals and real-time interfaces with stock availability.

Improve Efficiency

Efficiency is key to reducing the strain felt by staff. The good news is, there are many new digital solutions.   

Retail CRMs like Zoho that include customer history and inventory management make it easier to answer vital questions. This reduces unnecessary wait times and can help new employees get up to speed faster.

Up-to-date supply chain data is critical for modern retailers. Utilizing a Warehouse Management System, like Blue Yonder, improves self-service efficiency and alleviates pressure on employees.

Foot traffic analysis helps solve bottlenecks. WiFi, GPS, Beacons, and user motion work together to collect foot traffic data. Thermal sensors, CCTV cameras, and Mobile Location data are just a few of the ways retailers are able to track how many people are walking through a specific location. Aislelabs is a leading Customer Data Platform (CDP) in this innovative space with real-time heatmaps.

Today’s consumers prefer to “chat” instead of calling. Chatbots answer frequent questions, create conversations, and enable customers to take action on their own. Chatfuel and Flow XO are a couple of easy, no-code chatbot solutions. 

Value for Employees and Customers

This holiday season presents many opportunities for retailers to reimagine customer experiences. We hope these solutions help you manage the current labor challenges and build value for your employees and customers.

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