Recruiting for an omnichannel retail world

business, diagram, planWhen we consider recruitment in retail, we look to market indicators of confidence as well as the ebb and flow of individual retailers. But more than this, we focus on overall market trends, themes and sentiment.

At the World Retail Congress  earlier this year, ACRS shared results from the Global Retail Sentiment Index, which acts as a benchmark of retail and consumer sentiment and provides a glimpse into current global retail industry sentiment and performance.

Key statistics highlighted in the survey that we are seeing directly impact the way retailers are recruiting in Australia and the types of talent retailers are bringing into their businesses include: 57 per cent of respondents to the survey place social media as the strongest channel of influence and 89 per cent of respondents saw big growth in online and mobile sales.

But it is the key priorities of retailers identified by the survey that are among the key drivers of recruitment in Australia right now. These are positions aligned to customer loyalty, digital channels (online, mobile, social) and product development and expansion.

The generally positive outlook highlighted by the ACRS Survey is certainly one that we see shared by Australian retailers even despite minor dips in consumer confidence, such as seen in the most recent ANZ-Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence Index, which in the week ending July 10 fell 0.5 per cent to 115.2, below the four-week average of 116.7. There will always be some flow-on effect for retail, but these blips in confidence are not changing the bigger picture for retailers. And for a majority, this is an unwavering focus on the transition to an omnichannel retail world.

Prior to the internet, there were stores and the customer experience in store. Now, a customer can be anywhere, product can be fulfilled from anywhere and the customer can receive it anywhere. This is leaving retailers having to consider quite literally hundreds of different ways a consumer can experience and engage with their business and products. Add to this the customer expectation of a seamless experience between what is on and offline.

But knowing what needs to be done and successfully activating a presence across all channels is easier said than done. So how are retailers recruiting for this new omnichannel world?

Corresponding with the survey results, retailers with a physical presence are focusing on roles aligned to the overall customer experience, and those areas that are predicted to be the biggest drivers of change for the instore environment: customer analytics and mobile e-commerce. This almost single-minded focus is reflective of the shift in talent briefs we are seeing from retailers, large and small.

Although following in the footsteps of more advanced omnichannel markets such as the UK and US, Australia is still coming to terms with what an outstanding customer experience looks like. Retailers recognise they need to be ‘better’, but how that translates to specific talent needs is often less clear.

A scroll down the job board listings highlights the confusion, with many retailers seeking ‘combined’ candidate specialist expertise in marketing and e-commerce, then realising that this is both rare and unlikely to address either the immediate or long-term needs of the business.

What is clear is there’s no one answer, so as retailers find their way there is a willingness to invest in the talent they ‘need’. This has led to many digital specialists being sponsored from markets such as the UK, where the strategy, technology platforms and approach to implementation are more advanced. And, unsurprisingly good candidates enabling retailers in the transition to this omnichannel environment have the upper hand when it comes to salary negotiation.

Before making any investment in talent, there are three steps you can take to guide your approach. First, look at what similar businesses are doing well; second, approach non-competitive retailers about what works for them, you’ll find many are willing to share their experiences; and three, seek advice from both internal and external recruiters.

Richard Wynn is managing partner at FutureYou Executive Recruitment and can be contacted at or 0448 416 172.


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