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Retailers held back by outdated and rigid “digital set up” – and staff hate it, study shows

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Almost half (44%) of UK retail staff say the biggest frustration in the industry is using outdated technology and a lack of training – and they are leaving the industry as a result of stores being ‘too rigid’.

According to a survey of more than 500 retail workers by IT consultancy and technology firm REPL Group, almost half (46%) of those surveyed believe that stores managing their workforce more efficiently would improve their job satisfaction, while 70% feel more flexibility on pricing to match online competitors and more accurate forecasting would result in higher levels of instore engagement.

According to 18% of respondents, their job satisfaction would be enhanced by having access to a customer’s purchase history when they walk into the store.

“We are finding that a large number of retailers are being held back by their existing digital set-up,” commented Mike Callender, executive chairman, REPL Group. “These retailers must invest in new technology to address the concerns expressed by retail workers and avoid being left behind. By deploying up-to-date instore technology, including POS upgrades, retailers will be able to overcome customer service frustrations by allowing its employees to easily place orders and check stock from the shop floor.” 

Callender continues: “It is vital that retailers address these shortfalls in workforce management and forecasting by upgrading their current systems. By adopting new AI technology, retailers can gain access to more granular insights and simplify calculating forecasts and demand,”

The study also found that more than three-quarters (76%) of retail workers say that their store has been left unprepared for spikes in demand of certain products, particularly in the lead up to major games during this summer’s World Cup and periods of extremely hot weather. 

“From the poll, we can also see that the majority of retail workers believe the high street is currently too rigid and lacks the flexibility in pricing offered by online shopping. Sadly, this could be the high street’s downfall, unless store owners act on the observations of those working on the shop floor and provide them with the correct tools to overcome these issues, perform their roles effectively and offer a better level of customer service,” added Callender. 

Job insecurity due to high street closures was found to be a major concern for 22% of retail workers, while 15% said that customers coming into store for advice only to then buy the item online is their biggest frustration.

Image: Carphone Warehouse

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