How to Attract and Retain the Frontline Retail Workforce You Need

    Build the workforce you need with professional development. Use retail upskilling and reskilling to boost frontline workers’ digital skills and people skills.  

    calendar-plus-01 July 28, 2023
    user-circle Credly Team
    hourglass-01 7 min read

    Looking across the retail landscape, two forces are sweeping over the industry.  

    On the one hand, technology is transforming all retail. No longer just the province of e-commerce companies, nearly every major retailer has an online presence. But this wave of e-commerce isn't about eliminating brick-and-mortar retail; it's about enhancing it. The goal: allow consumers to shop how they want, even if that changes daily or hour to hour. 

    Not only are brick-and-mortar retailers running full-fledged online sales operations, but they're also giving customers many more ways to obtain goods bought online: In-store pick-up, contactless pick-up in the parking lot, local delivery services for store-to-customer orders.  

    Technology is also changing the in-store experience, with customers scanning their apps in the checkout line or checking product availability and location in their local store before arriving. 

    The technological transformation of retail also heralds a workforce transformation. More and more manual tasks are automated. According to McKinseymore than half of the activities traditionally performed by retail workers can be automated with current technology. But new roles with more digital and logistics-focused skills are emerging. 

    The other force sweeping over the industry: workforce attrition. 

    Almost half of all retail workers expect to leave their jobs in the near future, with many planning to seek employment outside the sector. You're not only competing with other retailers for talent but other industries as well. And with workers leaving, many retailers have increased wages, putting more pressure on already tight margins. 

    All retailers — but especially brick-and-mortar retailers — must face the fact that no matter how much technology they incorporate, human faces and interactions will still provide opportunities to provide customers with a satisfying experience. So how can retailers attract and retain the workforce they need? The answer is simple: teach them. 

    Professional development for retail workers. 

    In the past, entry-level retail positions requiring relatively few skills meant workers. That also meant that as those workers developed skills and experience — on the job or in school outside the job — they moved on to other positions.  

    But retailers need more out of their workforce now. Frontline retail workers increasingly must-have digital skills to do parts of their job AND excellent people skills — communications, collaboration, problem-solving, and customer focus. 

    One way to battle worker churn and transform your workforce into highly skilled, customer-focused retail professionals is to offer more learning and development opportunities. 

    When employers provide training opportunities, employees feel more valued. That increases their engagement at work and their productivity. And by providing them with training, retailers can shape their workforce to meet the requirements of their business strategy. Training also bolsters employee loyalty, reducing churn. 

    The McKinsey survey also found that career development was the second-most frequently cited reason. This included factors such as "little emphasis on knowledge, skills, and ability development" and "limited internal mobility, career coaching, and skill-acquiring opportunities." 

    Your retail staff remains the face of your company. Whether in-store or online, your frontline worker's and customers' interactions significantly influence customer satisfaction. Those employees need their people skills reinforced, and they need new digital skills to execute changing retail business strategies. 

    Data-driven workforce planning. 

    Your frontline retail workers want training. But what skills do they need?Predictive analytics can be used to provide workers with personalized learning paths. By understanding what skills and roles will be needed in the future and what skills workers have now, retailers can create upskilling and reskilling programs to bridge the gap. Verified digital credentials can be a key source of data for developing these insights. 

    Data-driven succession planning in organizational transition or disruptive market conditions for frontline retail workforce is robust. Achieve this through data-driven workforce planning.  

    Real-time data informs strategic decisions. Data can pinpoint the roles most vulnerable to disruption and identify the skills necessary for the future. A platform like Workforce, by Pearson, can help leaders see what skills workers have and what skills they need at a granular level — across your whole workforce, in just one department or location, down to the individual level. 

    Upskilling and reskilling 

    Upskilling is when you prepare someone in a role to advance along that same path. Reskilling means taking workers from one discipline and retraining them to function in a different area of your business.  

    For frontline retail workers, the key is integrating retail knowledge, new digital skills, and people skills (also called power skills or soft skills sometimes). For retail success, upskilling is most valuable in three key areas:  

    • Customer focus  
    • Collaboration  
    • Personal learning and mastery  

    Data across many industries shows that workers want training and development opportunities. But retailers can take additional steps to encourage participation. 

    Digital credentials 

    Verifiable digital learning credentials give employers data about what learning activities employees have completed. They also provide further data for workforce planning. 

    But employees also like digital credentials. Through digital badges, workers can share their new skills online. In the social environment of a store, that can reinforce how companies value learning and motivate other workers to take advantage of upskilling opportunities.   

    Digital credentials offer enhanced impact for learners compared to traditional certifications. They don't necessarily replace standard qualifications, but they improve them.  

    Credentials demonstrate an individual has acquired certain levels of skill, knowledge, and expertise. Traditionally candidates self-report their diplomas and certificates, and employers must trust and verify those credentials.  

    Digital credentials provide further data to feed into workforce planning efforts. 

    Esri, a customer-focused organization that manages a long-standing certification program, found substantial improvements when it made the shift. Static certifications lack shareability and verification — 82% found the digital badge a valuable tool for sharing their certifications more easily — and 44% reported the digital badges allowed them to be found more quickly based on their current skills. 

    By using data-driven workforce planning, get the right workers with the right skills in the right roles. 

    With Workforce by Pearson, you have the tools to make this strategy a reality. It's data-driven insights and comprehensive platform empower you to identify critical skills gaps, design targeted training programs, and offer verifiable digital credentials that engage and retain your workforce.  

    Are you ready to take the first step in future-proofing your retail workforce?Schedule a demo with Credly today and discover how Workforce can drive your organization forward into the digital age. 


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