Reducing the labor shortage through positive employee engagement

Across the country, signs stating “MASKS REQUIRED”, have been replaced by “HELP WANTED” because of a national shortage of workers.


Many economists blame low wages. While there is no doubt that retailers could do better, there’s one major factor: Retailers don’t make it easy for employees to work there.

More than Enough Work to Get Around

There is a lot of demand. Customers want to return to the store. Retail recovery has been slowed by a shortage of workers to meet this high demand.

NPD , a market research company, shows that consumers spend about 12 percent more this year than they did last year and 16 percent less than they did before the pandemic of 2019. The retail unemployment rate is still higher than the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that the national unemployment rate is 5.8 percent, while the retail unemployment rate is 7.3 percent. This 1.5 percent difference indicates that there are currently hundreds of thousands of unfilled retail jobs.


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It is a sad reality that very few retailers use technology to increase employee engagement. We hear from retail workers that their employers still use paper schedules or take screenshots of their schedules due to the long process of getting to their online schedules. Trainees are often seen watching old training videos in their breakrooms, punching in on the time clock or filling out slips with paper to request days off.

These practices will be obsolete in 2021.

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Modernizing Employee Engagement

Many people start their career in retail. Many of the youngest employees are digital natives. To maximize employee engagement, employers must follow one simple principle: Meet them where and when they are.

This includes investing in artificial intelligence and natural language processing (NLP), which make it easier to attract, train, and retain employees, as well as creating an employee engagement program that puts employees first.

NLP can improve efficiency by automating scheduling requests and alerting employees when shifts are coming up. It also broadcasts when someone is available for an open shift. You can also use NLP to improve efficiency and effectiveness by using the same devices you already love and know.

Modern technology allows retailers to personalize communications with employees, which can help create a culture that encourages inclusion. These communications could include operational and corporate messaging via channels employees prefer, such SMS. These small steps can help to create a culture that values and engages employees.

Although these changes may seem large, they ultimately remove one of the biggest problems retailers have: keeping employees. Employees will be happier if they don’t feel frustrated with the archaic process of switching shifts or asking for a day off.

Let’s summarize: Investing in modernizing employee engagement can help you:

  • Operational efficiencies can be increased
  • Create a culture that values inclusion.
  • Increase employee retention

This strategy has been used by some of the most prominent brands in the country with great success. Even smaller brands have done it.

The Trickle-Down Effect

This is, of course, the greatest benefit for retailers: a happy customer.

Happy employees deliver better experiences. Employees who enjoy their work and feel valued by their employers will bring the same mindset to their interactions and interactions with customers.

Isn’t this the ultimate goal for all retailers? To build loyal customer relationships, positive customer engagements are key. Positive employee engagement can make all the difference.








2021 Year Of Agility: Last Kicking the Wholesale Habit

Wholesale is the future of business.

Enter 2021. This year will see continued post-ish pandemic growth in e-commerce. Many brands are pulling back on wholesale partners to go direct-to-consumer (D-to–C) and the ultimate wholesale-marketing bridge, marketplaces.

In 2020, retailers spent duct-taping broken supply chains together, reeling from wholesale partner orders being slashed as stores shut down across the country, and scrambling for margin and brand protection as their product was undervalued by wholesaler partners who offered deep discounts. They came out stronger than they expected, with better perspectives on how to reach customers and drive revenue.

Brands Accelerate Shift from Wholesale to D-to -C

The collapse of the traditional wholesale model in recent years has been due to complicated inventory planning, decreasing customer loyalty to wholesale partners and a discount-driven culture. This makes it difficult for both brands and retailers to make a profit from partnership opportunities. Manufacturers have always believed that 30 percent of their revenue should be from wholesale channels. Many brands have initiated plans to reduce their dependence on wholesale to increase their margins, strengthen customer relationships, and manage customer data. This plan was a necessity as many brands saw their purchase orders drop and products go on sale at steep discounts in 2020.

Six chains, including Big 5 Sporting Goods (DSW), Dunham’s Sports (Sport Shoe Show), and Urban Outfitters, were informed by Nike in March 2021 that they would no longer be wholesale partner. Nine other chains, including Belk and Dillard’s, EbLens and Zappos were also informed in the past year.

Under Armour has embraced a proactive wholesale door reduction effort for North America, its CEO PatrikFrisk stated on the company’s fourth quarter earnings call in February. The company plans to eliminate 2,000-3,000 wholesale doors by the end this year. Chip Bergh, CEO of Levi’s, has echoed this sentiment in boardrooms across America. He stated that the pandemic had “accelerated what would have taken another five years or 10 years to playout and compressed it all into the past year.”

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Wholesale Drop-Shipping

In the last three years, Macy’s and Nordstrom have increased their product offerings on a dropship basis. This means that the vendor ships the product, not the retailer. Drop-shipping is a popular way for brands to move away from traditional wholesale relationships. Drop-shipping allows brands to have less inventory commitment, more control over customer relationships and better data collection. Drop-ship partnerships allow brands to reach new audiences and expand their distribution channels. However, the upside is that drop-ship partners can also be controlled by the consumer’s journey regarding shipping, receiving, and returning the goods.

Marketplaces are the New Department Store

D-to-C is an alternative to wholesale. However, it can increase brand margins but customer acquisition remains costly. Marketplaces, which do not hold inventory but take a 20% to 30% cut of every sale through their platform, are a middle ground. These marketplaces offer exposure and another channel for distribution, without the all-too-familiar hassles of wholesale.

Forrester projects that marketplaces will drive 10 percent of all total U.S. retail sales and 57% of ecommerce sales by 2020. These trends suggest that marketplaces will be responsible for more than half of all e-commerce sales by 2023.

2020 was a year that brands spent purely on protecting their loyal customers and the first-party data sets that goes with them. They can now tap into their customer insights to learn who their customers really are, what they shop for, and, equally important, where they shop.

A deep understanding of customers is combined with clear business goals, and a clear understanding of brand purpose are used to determine which market partnerships to explore. If you are a luxury brand that wants to expand into Europe, MyTheresa and Farfetch might be a good partner. Do you own a beauty brand that is clean and owned by Black founders? Thirteen Lune might be the right partner for you to help more customers discover your brand and products.

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It is crucial to maintain brand affinity and connect with consumers. Although marketplaces may be a great way to reach new consumers, you lose control of customer experience. A brand that is grounded in data can reevaluate partnerships and shift strategies to meet its holistic business goals.

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Retailers and brands have learned that flexibility and agility are key to survival and growth in order to be successful in all areas of business, including 2020 and beyond. Each channel has its own challenges. These include a lack in control over customer experience and data with wholesalers and marketplaces, as well as shrinking margins due to direct e-commerce. If the industry has shown anything, it is that it is resilient. Brands can use consumer-rich data from across the company to develop a flexible channel mix that places their brand and products in front of customers in a buying mindset.