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Retail TouchPoints recently published its sixth annual Store Operations Survey, once again declaring it “safe to take brick-and-mortar off the endangered species list.” But even though offline still has a prominent place in today’s omnichannel world, retailers are experiencing unique operating challenges when it comes to elevating the customer experience.

Overall, the top three challenges in 2018 from senior retail ops survey respondents were:

  • Offering similar convenience as online shopping
  • Seamlessly integrating with other customer touch points
  • Providing unique experiences that move shoppers toward transactions

Key theme 1: Employee hiring, retention, and engagement

Hiring and retention was a major challenge in 2018, especially in comparison to the year prior, likely due in large part to a much more competitive job market. Respondents were asked to rank 11 challenges in order of importance from 1-11 and stacked hiring/retention and training/engagement right at the top.

What are your greatest store operations challenges?

  • 53% selected employee hiring/retention as their first or second concern (up 10% from 2017 survey)
  • 50% ranked employee training/engagement as their first or second concern
  • 25% Workforce management to optimize in-store experiences

Key theme 2: Mobile technology

Overall, retail ops leaders are turning more attention toward technology—particularly mobile—and budgets are on the rise to reflect these shifting priorities.

Which areas of your store budget have been increased in 2018 versus 2017?

  • 61% New technology
  • 52% Connectivity
  • 52% Mobile technology
  • 49% Employee hiring/retention

When asked about equipping store employees with mobile technology, 70% of respondents stated that they either already are doing so, or plan to “soon.” Improvements in customer satisfaction and employee education were ranked as the top benefits mobile-enabled retailers have seen so far:

What benefits have you seen from arming employees with mobile technology?

  • 64% Increased customer satisfaction
  • 55% Improved employee education/training
  • 41% Increased upsells/cross-sells
  • 39% Improved employee morale
  • 30% Increased average dollar sale

At Nudge, we believe strongly in the link between employee engagement and the right tools to influence performance. To learn more, download our new ebook, The fourth transformation in retail.