The Hiring Challenge Facing Retail

The last couple of years have proved difficult for retail as the pandemic has changed consumers buying patterns, placed a huge importance on protecting your employees and customers, and has put stress on brands with large physical store counts. As we come out of this dark period, there is light. The National Retail Federation said that they expect retail holiday sales in 2021 to grow between 8.5 percent and 10.5 percent over 2020. Additionally, they said that over the first nine months of 2021, spending returned to mostly pre-pandemic levels.

While this is great news for retail, it presents a new set of challenges around the retail workforce. The New York Times reported that Macy’s is paying $500 referral bonuses and Walmart is starting pay at as much as $17 an hour. With Macy’s alone planning to hire 76,000 new employees for the holiday season. According to the Labor Department, US employers added 531,000 jobs, dropping the unemployment rate to 4.6% in October. As the US economy continues to grow and as unemployment stays at these low levels, it makes hiring seasonal workers all the more difficult.

How can technology help with staffing challenges in retail?

There are two main ways that modern in-store solutions can help retailers in this staffing crunch. The first is around employee retention. Not only do happy employees make for happy customers, but happy employees are more likely to stick around. Retail staff want to work the way they live and you as a retailer can’t afford to spend time and money on extensive training programs. This is where mobile, responsive POS solutions in-store help. When 93% of Millennials own a smartphone, why ask them to learn on an antiquated POS solution and expect them to want to stay with you, especially when there are so many other employment options available.

The second way that technology can help retail is with autonomous checkout solutions. We have all grown used to self-checkout when shopping at a grocery or convenience store. Many shoppers prefer this cashier-less checkout option. Over the past few years, the use of self-checkout technologies has grown in other retail verticals. Even specialty retail is starting to pick up on the ease of checkout for a customer and the flexibility it provides for a store manager. As hiring your seasonal workforce becomes more and more challenging, is it time for you to consider self-checkout too?

A robust self-checkout solution for specialty retail should enable the retailer to leverage their traditional POS lanes in a mixed mode. Meaning, the cash wrap can be dual purpose, use traditional POS when an associate is present and helping customers, and toggle to self-checkout when an associate goes on break or to help augment the staff. The JumpMind Commerce self-checkout solution provides this easy way of push button attended POS to autonomous self-checkout. As you grow the number of self-checkout lanes, we have a lane management app that allows for an associate or manager to easily assist customers and keep tabs on all the lanes in use.