Is your retail workforce ready for the future of shopping?
As global spending habits change, retailers have a laundry list of things that need fixing. The transition to digital channels means that traditional stores need to embrace omnichannel. Post-pandemic hiring dilemmas, supply chain holdups, and limited shelf space mean that retail pros really have their work cut out for them – staying professional, profitable, and productive in the so-called ‘new normal’.
Not only have shoppers moved online, but even when they do go to the store, retail buyers now make more purposeful visits, expecting to buy more items per visit and making fewer ‘store runs’ than they might have before.
Take US shoppers, for instance. Shipstation reports that more than half of online shoppers are now less likely to shop with physical retailers who lack the contactless fulfillment options that they have grown accustomed to, such as buy online pick up in store (BOPIS) or curbside pickups. And as RIS’s 31st Annual Retail Technology Study illustrates, many of these changes are here to stay: over a third of retailers already offer curbside pickup (33%) and instore pickup or return (40%), and 70% say they will implement both in the next two years.
That retailers are embracing digital innovations to accelerate their business transformations should come as little surprise. After all, the same study reported that more than half of retailers saw revenue increases in 2021 on the back of record sales highs of US$6.59 trillion, a 53% rise over a decade. And yet despite that, retail employment is still down, with at least 158,000 fewer retail workers in the industry than before February 2020.
At the same time, online-acclimatised customers can be said to be more demanding than ever, expecting fast service and speedy fulfillment. With such shifting market dynamics, retailers are discovering that technology is a priority, with 60% saying in the RIS study that they were upping their innovation spending.
Specifically, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning has been capturing sellers’ attention for its potential to accelerate efficiencies in multiple aspects of the business. In fact, global retail spending on AI exceeded US$2 billion in 2018, indicating the heightened expectations of the technology before the pandemic – and AI expenditure is only predicted to grow substantially in the years ahead.
Retailers are actively complementing various aspects of their stores with the multifaceted, intelligent capabilities of AI including optimising their staff scheduling, streamlining task execution and monitoring, and empowering sales associates to communicate better in-store. Some retailers have already cottoned on to the capabilities of AI to evaluate sales data, including historical data, to better determine what items should be stocked more, optimising pricing using simulated scenarios, and which promotions work best in different outlets.
Implementing different systems for different applications can be costly and as burdensome as the cost to replace the shortfall in skilled labour. This is where Zebra Technologies’ SaaS suite, Reflexis, helps retailers address a range of issues including empowering frontliners, streamlining labour and communication, and easing execution workflows.
Zebra’s Reflexis hosts real-time task management, store operations, and workforce management solutions all in one AI-powered platform – allowing retailers to simplify workflows for retail locations, yet optimise both labour and inventory to streamline work execution (as well as workforce expenditure) to be more efficient.
Reflexis harnesses AI to coordinate in-store activities across the organization, using a straightforward and easy-to-grasp interface – improving the in-store experience for both the user and the customer, but also improving retail associate engagement and retention rates, parlaying that into an increased focus on driving sales and profitability.
Reflexis reduces costs and complexity, as a unified, cloud-hosted platform to replace costly, disparate systems. Zebra’s solution provides 360-degree visibility over the operation, and utilises AI to maximise spend by aligning labour to meet customer demand in a targeted fashion, helping achieve sales and profitability targets.
Each Reflexis module is robust on its own, but function seamlessly together to simplify store operations, maximize labour, and measure progress. Find out what Reflexis can do for your workforce and your retail location, get in touch with Zebra today.
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