With the emergence of technology, along with every other industry, retail has been impacted profoundly. As retailers are getting more accustomed to digital communications, offering innovative services and information in digital formats, there exists a global expansion of markets, as the buyer is now not just limited to the geographical location of the business. To add emphasis on the use of technology and digital, as the economy re-opens, we have observed a shift in consumer habits, fluctuations in purchasing power and unpredictability of demand and supply.
From having to incorporate new protocols as well as the fluctuations in demand and supply based on emergent situation in their respective regions, retailers are now subject to unanticipated challenges. One of the factors having a substantial impact is ensuring the safety of the employees as well as maintaining business as usual activities. This does not only mean creating a crisis communication plan and distributing it among the workers, but it also actually necessitates an innovative solution to the hitches frontline workers are facing in the retail industry.
Key challenges that retailers are facing today
- Customers have access to more information than ever before, informing their purchasing decisions.
- Challenges onboarding, training and retaining global workforce
- Experience is replacing product as the key retail differentiator for brick and mortars.
- Artificial intelligence and smart devices are increasingly being integrated as a part of the customer in-store experience and back-end operations.
- Growing consumer expectations around sustainability combined with new legislation worldwide, that is pushing retailers globally to become more environmentally friendly.
- Personalization is expected and profitable: With more data than ever before, retailers can glean insights from customer information and purchasing behavior to customize product offerings and store experience.
- Need to upskill workforce and drive adoption with effective top-down communication and guidance.
- Risk of security breach impacting compliance
- Lack of purpose-built devices
- Difficulty accessing information required
” 48% of executives indicate the majority of their frontline workers aren’t digitally empowered.” Source: Empowering the frontline workforce (Forbes, 2017).
How to enable frontline workers?
To enable frontline workers, retailers will need to empower their firstline workers to assess, define and plan for the challenges they face in the ever-emerging world as businesses resume operations. For companies to successfully transform, they’ll need to:
- Enable secure remote work environments to ensure continued business collaboration from the frontline to the C-Suite
- Manage growing cyber security and compliance risks as you transform and adopt modern tools / processes / technology
- Digitize business processes and provide integrated solutions to drive operational efficiencies across your organization
- Cultivate a connected and engaged workforce to drive productivity and retain top talent
How to get started?
Microsoft has created the Frontline worker workshop, designed for retailers to provide an insight into the frontline use case scenarios, art of possible, to bring everything together in a shared workspace e.g chat, meeting, manage shifts, share tasks and more.
Microsoft Workshops components and deliverables:
- Learn how to provide better connectivity for your workshops force.
- Build strength, culture and community by engaging employees to foster inclusion.
- Digitizing manual process using Shifts, Tasks, Power Automate, Power Platform, Graph API’s.
- Onboard and train employees using Live events, Streams, Teams channels and Yammer communities.
- Connecting disparate teams, communicating from the store floor to management, and transacting from anywhere.
- Enabling teams to track critical objectives, milestones, and timelines and by reacting quickly to address issues
- Overview of Industry-specific devices, hands-free headsets, Surface Go.
- Enhance security and compliance with solutions like Azure Active Directory identity and access management, Microsoft Endpoint Management, Windows Information Protection, Firstline Policy Package, and Advanced Encryption.
- Digitizing resources in a single hub to streamline training, enabling continuous learning on the sales floor, and answering questions quickly.
Join our upcoming virtual event to learn more:
If the challenges above sound familiar, and you are in the retail space, I’d encourage you to join the October 28th webinar for a free virtual session to get an overview of your potential blockers and challenges, see what options are available for you and and get assistance with developing an actionable plan to address your frontline worker needs.