Retail Re-emerging and Hiring on the Rise
Retail is dead. Long live Retail. Contrary to some hand-wringing punditry, the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t kill retail. Just like almost every other business, however, the pandemic did hasten a myriad of trends and the evolution of how things are bought and sold. Here are just some of the trends shaping retail as the world reopens post-pandemic:
Consumers Are Digitally Entrenched
According to a recent Gartner study of pandemic-influenced consumer behavior, consumers are digitally entrenched. This means that consumers do not intend to shake digital behaviors they developed during the pandemic. This particularly applies to their new shopping habits across categories. Groceries. Home goods. Furniture. Office supplies. Pet goodies. You name it – consumers like their virtual carts and delivery services, and some say it is now their preferred mode of retailing.
Less – and Repurposed – Brick & Mortar Spaces
Physical locations and malls were already in crisis pre-pandemic. And now, with consumers embracing the convenience of home shopping (and picking up in-store), retailers are under more pressure than ever to rethink their footprint and purpose for each space. Retail trends emerging are small, seasonal concept or regionally relevant pop-ups, online order fulfillment locations, or a place to meet a personal shopper to collect a curated selection of remotely discussed items.
Goal-oriented In-store Visits
As vaccinations roll out, consumers are returning to stores and malls. But the trend is to be purposeful with visits. If they aren’t there to just pick up an online purchase from a self-service kiosk or parcel locker but instead are there to buy, they are more likely to have done research ahead of time, knowing exactly which item is their target. In/out. No lingering.
Technology Is Part & Parcel of the Shopper Experience
Consumers expect a seamless interaction with retail brands online and in-store, which means a tech-improved shopper experience is more important than ever. Brick and mortar tech-enabled expectations include contactless pickup and payment, in-store capacity and traffic control, inventory management, appealing merchandising, and more. Online, consumers will expect personalized user experiences. And between both environments, brands will be expected to deliver frictionless delight as shoppers toggle from in-person and digital shopping interactions.
Technology & Top Retail Talent Will Fuel the Future of Shopping Starting Now
As recruiters steeped in the retail space, the roles we are filling at the corporate level have expanded to include professionals with experience in AI, machine learning, robotics, data analytics, predictive modeling, UX/UI design, analytical logistics, operations, and supply chain, augmented reality, and more. In-store retail associates are expected to be increasingly technically savvy, empowered by real-time operations data and customer intel, to deliver a high touch (from afar) shopping experience that the post-pandemic shopper expects. From the front lines of recruitment, we’re already seeing an uptick in retail hiring.
For a hard pandemic-hit industry like retail, with every vaccine delivered, so is hope. The National Retail Foundation is forecasting retail sales to grow between 6.5% and 8.2% to more than $4.33 trillion in 2021 as the economy continues to reopen, fueled by vaccinations. Smart retailers are aligning tech and talent to be well-positioned to grab their share of consumer spending. To speak with one of our expert retail recruiters today, contact us here.