By Amber Hovious, VP of Marketing & Partnerships, Teamwork Commerce
In the years following the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing labor shortage has continued to cause significant challenges for the retail industry. Until the pandemic, research shows that yearly US retail employment numbers continued to rise. In the years following, however, there has been a sharp decline – and this is expected to continue. In fact, the same research from Statista predicts that by 2026 there will be 500,000 fewer US retail staff than there were in 2020.
As brick-and-mortar continues to be a popular sales channel for consumers seeking a high-quality in-store experience, it is crucial for retailers to be able to rely on their staff to assist customers and provide the ultimate customer service. However, with labor shortage issues continuing to loom, many retailers are struggling to keep up with shop floor demands. The lack of staff can negatively impact the overall customer experience – causing delays in checkout times, increasing queues and leaving customers frustrated at a lack of shop floor assistance.
To mitigate the impact of labor shortages on customer experience and sales, retailers can empower their associates to provide efficient and high-quality services through technology adoption in-store. More specifically, at the point of sale (POS). From advanced mobile POS solutions to modern self-checkout technologies, retailers can leverage these solutions to not only alleviate pressure on staff, but to also enhance the experience of their customers. With the right solution, employees can streamline the entire transaction process, allowing more time for other tasks, whilst maintaining high levels of customer service.
Mobile POS: Delivering Speed & Multifunctionality
Mobile POS technology empowers retail associates to serve customers from any part of the store, removing in-store queuing and customer wait times. With POS software being compatible with mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, associates no longer need to be tied to specific terminals and have the flexibility to complete transactions on the move. This enables staff to streamline the transaction process, delivering high quality customer experiences while freeing more time for them to continue with other tasks.
Fast checkout experiences aren’t the only way that Mobile POS can save time for staff. The latest POS solutions can go beyond simply facilitating sales, by also providing real-time information around order management, inventory management, and operational data and analytics. Integrating with a retailer’s wider technology stack, in-store associates can gain real-time access to inventory information, enabling staff to quickly help customers with enquiries around product availability, and can even offer alternatives for out of stock items. With built-in order management features, retailers staff can also complete omnichannel orders such as buy online, pick-up in-store (BOPIS) and buy online, return in-store (BORIS), with ease.
Thanks to its multifunctionality, employees can also easily calculate discounts and add promotions using data and analytics features. Insights can also help retailers analyze their retail operations more closely to make quicker and better decisions. Checkouts during successful promotion periods or shopping events such as Black Friday can now be executed with ease and efficiency.
Overall, Mobile POS enables retailers to significantly reduce the amount of time required to deal with customer queries and transactions, improving the overall customer experience while saving time for in-store staff.
Integrating RFID-Powered Self-Checkout
RFID-powered self-checkout terminals utilize RFID technology to create seamless transactions without the need for staff assistance. With products equipped with RFID tags at item-level, the technology instantly scans all items within a customer’s basket once placed in the designated scanning area. This allows customers to scan and pay for their items quickly and independently, reducing the number of staff required at traditional payment terminals, and allowing associates to dedicate more time to other tasks.
RFID-powered self-checkout alleviates the pressure faced by retail associates when it comes to managing several tasks with low staff numbers. Streamlining the checkout process increases the number of transactions per day, while reducing the likelihood of errors and ensuring the whole experience can remain as efficient as possible.
With item level RFID, retailers don’t need to worry about constantly monitoring potential theft attempts at self-checkout terminals. With products being tagged with RFID inlays, theft risks can be controlled thanks to the tags’ alarm-triggering capabilities. Additionally, this method of loss prevention also helps enhance customer trust at checkouts. With RFID technology being able to identify and address shoplifting incidents, security teams are able to do their job more efficiently.
Time is of the Essence
Labor shortages have the ability to severely impact a customer’s retail experience, which in the long-term can affect how the brand is perceived, along with its customer retention levels.
Operating with reduced staffing numbers, retailers must invest in the latest technologies that ease the burden on in-store associates. With the right solutions in place, retailers can automate select tasks and significantly streamline others, all while improving the overall customer experience. By investing in the latest POS technologies, retailers can achieve exactly that, setting themselves up for long-term success through improved customer relationships and more efficient operational processes.
About the author
Amber Hovious, is the VP of marketing & Partnerships at Teamwork Commerce. Amber has been part of the Teamwork Commerce family for 7 years, building out the marketing strategy, business growth and approach as well as cultivating a wide array of partnership relationships to drive long-term success.