‘Fewer but better jobs’ was the forecast issued by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) last year, when it published its Retail 2020 report on how the industry’s front-line will evolve.
But rather than a warning of mass job cuts – which many media interpreted this statement to read – the BRC’s report raised the importance of increasing staff productivity. As margins are squeezed, and operational efficiency becomes a key target for many businesses, there are opportunities for customer-facing employees to work as smart as they are hard. And the same goes for the hospitality sector, as well as retail.
Smarter staffing: mobilising front-line employees
Customer service continues to be the key differentiator in a competitive market, and both retailers and hospitality vendors need to connect the physical environment to digital information, to enable staff to focus on adding value.
Technology is central to making the workforce more productive; being able to serve customers through a mobile device, and using that device’s connectivity to show them the latest offers, take an order, or help them avoid a queue. And with most organisations only in the early stages of this deployment, the volume of mobile technology within retail and hospitality businesses will proliferate in the years to come.
Prioritising digital engagement
While retail or hospitality business may have seen middle management roles decline in recent years, omnichannel and digital teams have been significant growth areas.
Within leading retailers and hospitality businesses, these teams are driving technology initiatives that either support staff capabilities, or automate processes to streamline their responsibilities.
Self-serve machines, digital signage and other tech-led features are a powerful way to join-up physical and digital channels, and give customers more choice about how they interact with a retail or hospitality brand.
Not only that, but where there is an option to select self-service, front-line staff are freed to concentrate on customers who require personal attention.
Is your business ready for the technology demands of smarter staffing?
Technology is the key to supporting staff in stores and hospitality venues, but this poses new challenges for retailers and vendors, as an increasing number of connected devices are added to the bricks-and-mortar environment.
Fundamentally, the successful use of tech in the physical space relies on the enterprise network those devices are run from. Without a robust, reliable, scalable and secure network infrastructure, devices are vulnerable to running problems or failure – which will make life even harder for already pressured front-line staff.
For retailers and hospitality vendors, working smart means assessing current networks, and investing in a solid foundation for customer-facing technology. Think back-end first and front-end gains will follow: happy customers being served by a more productive workforce.