Will retailers sink or swim in 2020? The forecast is definitely worrisome as are some of the initial results. Research suggests that approximately 25,000 stores will close for good by the end of the year. However, retail vendors aren’t without options.
Those stores that are capable of creating a balance between brick-and-mortar operations and online sales, while also maintaining the appropriate workforce levels, will find ways to survive (and even thrive). Here’s what you need to know about your future retail business strategy, whether you run a boutique shop or a big box retailer, to hire the right people now and as the holiday season approaches.
The retail sector has been making the gradual transition to online shopping for years – the last few months just happened to fast-track the process. At the outset of the current crisis, 85% of all purchases were made at physical brick-and-mortar stores. Yet, as states locked down and in-store purchases were limited to the essentials, online purchases soared.
Take Amazon as an example. Consumers spent $75.5 billion with the online retail giant in Q1 2020 (up from $59.7 billion over Q1 2019) and are expected to have spent $75 to $80 billion in Q2. Necessity has been hastening the transition, even though 69% of consumers still prefer an in-person shopping experience. With only half of consumers willing to flock to brick-and-mortar retailers anytime soon, many brands are going to need to rethink their retail business strategy to accelerate their transition to eCommerce – or find a satisfying hybrid solution.
There’s likely an exciting opportunity for brick-and-mortar retailers in the form of curbside pickup. In a recent survey, more than 80% of participants expressed their desire to keep curbside pickup available after the pandemic. This fulfillment method can be faster and more cost-effective than traditional shipping and safer than in-store purchases. Those retailers that still have physical locations can offer this service as an added feature for customers that justifies a larger on-site workforce.
Where curbside was one piece of an omnichannel approach before, it’s now a critical way for retailers to leverage their stores without losing out on valuable customers — and it’s working. Kohl’s, Ulta, and Dick’s Sporting Goods are just a few retailers that have adopted curbside pickup options to cater to shoppers still hesitant about entering physical locations and buy online, pick up in store (aka curbside pickup or BOPIS) orders during the first 20 days of April rose 208% over last year. While big box stores had the resources to quickly implement this shift, smaller retailers that haven’t already implemented this option should– given the impact it could have on their bottom line.
As COVID-19 infection rates spike, the disagreement on a local, state, and federal government level on whether to remain open or shut down again makes the immediate future of in-store retail and curbside pickup uncertain. Even the traditional retail bonanza of the holiday season is indefinite, with Target and Walmart already announcing that their Black Friday sales of the past are no longer going to be the same experience. What we’re likely looking at in the near future is a contingent workforce that needs to be far more scalable with retailers capable of hiring at a moment’s notice.
interview on demand is an ideal resource in this unpredictable situation. Retailers that are empowered to reach and interview the right candidates before their competitors will have greater success bouncing back after periods of reduced demand or restricted operations. With straightforward and interactive one-way video interview experience, candidates can answer your interview questions at their earliest convenience, with over 80% responding within 24 hours of receiving an invite.
The benefits on the hiring side are even greater. You can review more candidates all at once, decreasing your time spent in interviews by 80% while also accelerating your hiring timelines. Better yet, you can find retail workers without creating any additional health risks and demonstrate your commitment to taking the necessary precautions to keep your teams and future hiressafe. Engaged and motivated workers will do what’s needed to keep your customers satisfied and safe, which will go a long way towards keeping your business afloat during the pandemic. When candidates know you have their wellbeing in mind, they’re more likely to act in ways that promote your wellbeing.
A successful retail business strategy must take an omnichannel approach to not only survive, but to grow during this time. Your physical locations and online stores have to work in tandem, leveraging each others insights and best practices in order to reach the largest consumer base in the safest way possible. You will also need a workforce that adjusts to the changing needs of your business and a way to find that workforce that’s simpler and faster than traditional screening and hiring methods. Nailing the balance for your business in this new reality is tough, but the future of retail as we know it is rapidly evolving, and it’s critical that you’re taking the steps necessary to change with it.
Monique Mahler is the CEO of interviewstream. She is an avid researcher of facts, a self proclaimed marketing geek, and an equestrian in her spare time.