Automation is the next wave of change which is happening across the enterprises in India, and retail is not an exception.
In today’s world, omni-channel is the only way to approach customers’ shopping journey. The role of in-store technology is deepening, and the role of store associates, whether in-store or deskless, is as important as other technological innovations. Training and retaining the right staff continues to be a daunting task for store managers, more so in omni-channel ecosystems.
It is very challenging for any retailer to have direct communication with field associates or deskless workers. Currently, retailers tend to rely on inefficient communication tools such as web interfaces (Whatsapp, for example) which cannot provide sufficient data and don’t allow managers to directly measure the performance and schedule non-routine tasks.
Changing Communication Trends
With the growing influence of the digital workplace, communication trends are evolving drastically: the digital workforce is becoming the need of the hour. It is key for large retail chains to adopt self-directed, demand-driven staffing solutions to optimize their existing resources and drive growth. Many large retail chains such as Macy’s and Shell Retail have switched to digital
workplaces to streamline internal and external communications.
Amazon Go is latest example of digital transformation in retail. Though the concept stands out in itself, it will further require the mapping of non-routine tasks to succeed as a retail platform. In this transitional period, frontline workers will have to be trained not only as cashiers, but as customer experience managers, service representatives and everything in between. The retail
workforce will include more part-time and hourly workers, who are proficient in multiple service areas and whose availability changes every single day. Other large retail chains that are considering a similar transformation to cashierless shopping will go through similar dilemmas; digital workforce management will be crucial.
Based in Canada, Workjam is helping retailers by cultivating a positive workplace experience and easing communications with deskless workers. Speaking on retail solutions, Steven Kramer, President and CEO of WorkJam said, “The biggest challenge for any retailer is how to communicate with field associates from the head office, especially when you have a large workforce such as Macy’s and have millions of field associates working for your organization. You have to have a pre-authenticated system to have seamless communication.”
Referring to an existing WorkJam client, Kramer explained that, prior to adopting WorkJam, a global retailer had tens of thousands of associates using WhatsApp to communicate with each other. WorkJam brought that communication into a secure, controlled environment where communication could easily flow between all levels of the organization. By using WorkJam, the
retailer has been able to keep associates’ contact information private while connecting the entire workforce. By moving communication to a centralized location - WorkJam’s Digital Workplace - alongside training, scheduling, and other features, the retailer has been able to drive employee engagement and operational efficiencies. The WorkJam mobile and web platform extends existing workforce management (WFM) systems and enables employers to develop, empower, and engage their frontlines. The platform enables associates to manage their work life with intuitive resources like schedule management,
task management, messaging, development, and training.
Future prospects of digital workforce in Indian retail
Automation is the next wave of change for enterprises across India, and retail is no exception. Today’s customers are more tech savvy than ever; they prefer to order products and services using more than one touch point at their convenience of location and device. Retailers must prepare their workforce accordingly. Moreover, retailers can churn better results in the store conversions with better customer experience. Effective communication allows customers to interact with their favorite brands and better leverage personalized promotions and take advantage of convenient features, such as order-ahead. There is no doubt that effective communication is very important for better engagement and training of your employees. Communications related issues are common across the globe, and India is no different. Effective communication allows your employees to be equipped with right
tools, making them successful and helping you to build a highly engaged workforce. Speaking on digital workforce opportunities in India, Steven Kramer noted, “Regardless of the employment ratio, operation efficiency is very important. In many parts of the world, a lot of training is still happening on paper or manually, which fails in generating engagement and does not allow better assessment of your employee.”
Going further, he stressed that each market has its own set of challenges to overcome, but you cannot shun technology. “Regardless of geography, providing the necessary tools is very important. India is a great market for us. Every market is little different. For example, in Philippines the mobile adoption is a bit slower for smart phones, so we equipped our customers there with shared tablets which are highly effective and allow communication in much effective way.”
Digital workforce is the tool which has all the power to ease retailers’ life and bring real tech innovations, making retailers’ omni-channel journey successful
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