Photo by Korie Cull on Unsplash
The retail industry has already experienced tremendous disruptions with the arrival of eCommerce, shifting what it means to have a brick-and-mortar business. However, rather than eradicating the brick-and-mortar as many predicted, the market has shown that customers still enjoy the thrill of in-store shopping, even if they make their purchases online. Some retailers have responded by elevating the in-store experience to emphasize customer service and brand narrative over high sales quotas. Industry experts project that these trends will only persist as retailers incorporate more digital technologies to augment the in-store experience and back-end logistics. Further, protests across the country have spotlighted values as critical in customers deciding where to spend their dollars.
With crucial changes to how ground-level employees interact with customers and experience digital technologies on the horizon, retailers will need to pivot their hiring practices to support altered or advanced skillsets.
Customer Service is Key
The COVID-19 crisis poses questions of how to pivot to meet the varying ways customers get a product out of the store. Curbside pickup and in-store pickup have given way to converting some floor space into order fulfillment, and in-house personal shopping services have pervaded traditional floorplans meant for browsing. This change begs the question--how will retailers maintain the face of a curated in-store experience on top of increased demand for order fulfillment? Especially with re-hiring off to a sluggish start, new and existing employees managing the needs of both high-volume shopping and high-volume in-store fulfillment are already strapped, which can create breeding grounds for behavioral issues to accelerate.
Historically, hiring for retailing companies has cast a wide net of candidates in transitional phases with a good set of interpersonal skills. However, as companies mount efforts to strategize growth plans to account for heightened attention on customer service and company values, it may be in the best interest to include innovating their hiring practices into the restrategizing. One way to do this is to emphasize the quality of incoming employees. More emphasis on brand narrative and values means a narrower, more qualified hiring scope. Every hiring decision becomes crucial. One of the ways to best distinguish between the qualifications of two candidates may be behavior. A candidate may present an aptitude for checking off a list of duties, but how are they performing them, and how might that affect the rest of the existing team?
In an era where politicization and identity politics have also permeated public, private, and professional spaces, retail companies must take an even closer look at who they are hiring. The trouble is, from a hiring perspective, how can companies ensure the consistency of a candidate’s character?
Screening can help navigate change
One of the most telling metrics of a candidate’s character is their behavior, which is measured best through a track record. Personal and professional references may not give the most transparent view of a candidate, and everyday behavior doesn’t appear on a criminal background check. Another solution is needed. Fortunately, social media screening has emerged as a viable supplement to hiring practices interested in more closely honing in on a candidate’s character. As more people’s public lives move into the digital space, social media reports have become a powerful tool to grasp candidate behavior. Specifically, potentially problematic business-related behavior like intolerance, violence, and sexually explicit material. As the premier social media screening service, Social Intelligence works directly with retail companies to supplement their screening process to make smarter, more informed hiring decisions.
As the retail sector navigates the future, Social Intelligence is proud to provide companies with tangible, achievable structural changes that will have lasting effects on future iterations of workforces.
About the author
Lindsey is an HR content writer and lifestyle blogger.