At the time of writing, the retail industry faces a crippling worker shortage, an accelerated shift from brick and mortar to e-commerce, and constant change thanks to the global pandemic. On top of this, consumer expectations are shifting, with a greater emphasis on speed, personalization, and a seamless buying experience.

Despite these changes, it is the customers’ interactions with front-line workers that influences their perception of a brand the most. Moreover, while shoppers may not be visiting storefronts and shopping in-store with the same frequency as they did before the pandemic, they still want and need to go to physical stores. According to research by Google, “61% of shoppers would still rather shop with brands that also have a physical location than ones that are online only.”

Since many basic interactions, such as purchasing a replenishment item, can be done online, when shoppers do visit a physical store, they want and expect more meaningful interactions with staff. But how can retailers build a better customer experience while simultaneously coping with the “Great Resignation?” The answer is to take greater steps to attract and retain top talent. To do that requires accelerating your organization’s investment in retail digital transformation and doing so with the goal of improving the employee experience.

Why a Better Employee Experience Matters Now More Than Ever

With a retail digital transformation, it’s important to start with specific, measurable objectives. For retailers, especially those hard-hit by recent staffing challenges, delivering a better employee experience should be high on the list of objectives. By improving their employer value proposition, creating a more inclusive work environment, and empowering staff by giving them greater control of their professional development, retailers can better attract, develop, and hold on to high-performing workers.

The idea here is straightforward and hardly revolutionary: happy employees typically lead to happy customers. As Greg Zeh, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Weis Markets, puts it, “We expect to gain greater agility that will help support our growing business and enable our retail associates to focus on higher value work, which benefits our customers.”

The problem is that traditionally, executing campaigns to improve the lives of employees at scale can be a slow, inconsistent process. This is where investing in new technology can help.

Staying on Top of Retail Digital Transformation

As a whole, the retail industry has been faster to embrace digital transformation than some other industries. Retailers generally have access to better data and can operate more agile than others.

That said, digital transformation is a journey, and while some may be further along than others, most organizations still have quite a way to go, specifically when it comes to HR, finance, and planning solutions. Retail software solutions like Workday make it easy for retailers to roll out new initiatives that help improve the employee experience.

Here are some ways that retailers can leverage Workday to create a better employee experience and ultimately deliver a better customer experience.

In-store workers: Quality > Quantity

Retailers are currently struggling to stay staffed while the COVID pandemic persists. According to a study by Square, about 72% of retailers use or are planning to use automation to reduce their worker’s time interacting with customers. Obviously, automation and self-service options, such as self-checkout, have been growing in popularity well before the pandemic, but the potential health risks to both customers and front-line workers means retailers are looking for ways to minimize unnecessary contact. When customers do interact with employees, however, those interactions need to be meaningful, efficient, and insightful. That means having the right talent in-store to deliver these great experiences. Attracting and retaining this talent, especially in the current hiring environment, can prove difficult.

Workday’s Human Capital Management solution helps retailers build out their hiring pipeline as well as retain existing talent. From a hiring perspective, Workday’s mobile-friendly design makes it easy for applicants to begin the application process from their mobile devices. In terms of retention, the solution makes it easy for retailers to institute company-wide changes to things like benefits without the need for special coding. Additionally, Workday Learning provides educational training and resources, making it easier to implement organization-wide trainings.

HR agility meets employees’ changing needs.

As mentioned earlier, retailers are generally quicker to adapt than companies in other industries. In fact, according to a study done by Workday, 78% of retail respondents said that they were able to quickly adapt at the onset of the pandemic. However, this agility is not always organization-wide: HR technologies aren’t always updated at the same pace as other business areas. This is especially problematic given the rapidly changing environment that retailers find themselves in.

Workday Human Capital Management allows companies in the retail industry to quickly make changes to policies and procedures to better adapt to these changing realities.

Attracting the right skill sets

The line between online and in-store experience has been gradually blurring for some time, and as retailers continue to tear down digital siloes and implement Internet of Things solutions in their stores, the line will become almost non-existent. The result is that in-store workers will have access to more information on-hand about a customer than ever before. It then becomes imperative that onsite workers have or develop new skill sets, such as digital literacy, to take this information and use it to create a personalized shopping experience for the customer. Workday can track the skills that a retailer’s workers possess and makes it easier to source and hire new staff with these needed skills.

This post was written Collaborative Solutions, they are an exhibitor on the HRTech247 Workday Partners floor in the Partners Hall here.