With the continued rise in online and omnichannel shopping, retailers in the future will have less use for traditional staff like cashiers and even sales associates but more need for tech-savvy workers who can do everything from crunch data to manage websites.
Experts in creating outstanding customer experiences also will be in high demand, says Bryan Pearson, an author and president of LoyaltyOne, a Toronto-based company that creates and manages customer loyalty programs.
In a Feb. 13 article on Forbes.com, Pearson notes that in the next decade nearly two-thirds of retail jobs will be new roles or require new duties, meaning the “most promising jobs will involve insights, not inventories.”
As evidence, Pearson points to current recruiting efforts by major retailers, such as grocery chain Kroger with its Restock Kroger recruitment program, which is investing $500 million in new hires, including “experienced digital and technology talent.”
“Nordstrom posted openings for nearly 30 technology positions in January alone. Opportunities included data engineers, software engineers and omnichannel inventory managers,” Pearson says. And “Home Depot has dedicated a webpage for attracting technology candidates, highlighting career opportunities in seven areas, including mobile, data analytics, online merchandising and user experience.”
“The challenge for traditional retailers is adapting the technology fast enough to win the best talent—and finding the right talent to adapt it,” Pearson says. “Another hurdle is capturing the interest of unknowing college graduates enamored with digital, more youthful-seeming brands.”
Retail jobs in demand will include:
- Customer experience leaders: Working across all aspects of a retailer’s brand, these staffers integrate the online and in-store shopping experiences and meet the changing shopping preferences of consumers, Pearson says.
- Data analysts: “Retailers are brilliant at capturing data, but they still struggle with putting it to its best use,” he says. Data analysts can help retailers understand shoppers’ preferences and predict their buying behavior.
- Software developers: Software developers support all those online shopping carts, mobile apps and other digital tools retailers increasingly rely upon.
“However, regardless of the degree to which technology changes careers, the most valued quality among workers will not change,” Pearson says. “That is the ability to empathize with consumers and troubleshoot their needs. Software can help build machine intelligence, but when it comes to delivering memorable interactions, shoppers still tend to prefer humanity.