Contracting trends
Contracting trends

Recession has encouraged employers to re-focus on their core business, realising that a smaller core workforce that was well trained and technologically astute was more effective and nimble than their pre-recession staff. 

In 2010, contract placements are found in nearly every profession in verticals like manufacturing, IT, services, and infrastructure and hospitality sectors. 

Why is there a surge in contract jobs and only a handful of direct-hire opportunities? So, will contracting growth continue? Should companies consider contracting? Let us learn more about the same and what role it has come to play in the retail sector.

Competing in the market

Companies have increasingly started hiring temporary staff in order to avoid risk and maintain sustainability of projects. Experts estimate temp staffing industry as USD 140 billion with India showing growth and expect to hire 5-7 % of temporary staff in the near future. 

“Contract staffing allows quick ramp-up (expand) and ramp-down (contract) of the workforce within short notices. Thus by Contracting can prove to be a smart strategy by companies to effectively compete in the market by offering products/services at optimal cost points; enhanced quality of products and overall increased customer experience,” opines Chetan Indap, Founder & CEO, StaffonContract.com.

Temp staffing also provides flexibility of employment, ease of recruitment and replacements throughout the companies' operations.  

“This trend is rolling because the organisations get an opportunity to concentrate on core areas while the non-core areas are takencare by other experts resulting into the long-term cost benefits and a responsible employer image. The companies also get more work done from temporary workers and also escape for paying those perks and incentives.

Temping also saves training costs by leasing companies direct skilled and experienced workers. Moreover, non-performing employees can be dealt with much simplicity and legal responsibility,” adds Deepak Kaistha, Director, Planman Consulting.

 Where retail is headed

Retail, although in the boom phase, is yet to see significant profits to its shareholders. Apart from the high cost of real-estate, Retailers have major problem around retaining workforce. Indap says,Today, retail probably has the highest attrition rates of over 40 percent, resulting in high recruitment and training costs. A few retailers have started adopting contract staffing as means for converting their fixed workforce costs to variable. With contracting, retailers can achieve 'just-in-time' hiring, enabling them to control the impact of attrition on cost and quality of service.” “My vision for Retail segment is to implement "Employee as a Service (EaaS)" model similar to the Cloud Computing model,” he further adds.

You may want to hire a staff on temporary basis thus saving on to your operating cost but again an extra employee may generate enough new sales to more than compensate the salary of the employee. The additional help could give you a chance to produce more products or serve more customers efficiently. “If the added business does not outweigh the minimum salary that you would have to pay, then, consider other alternatives to hiring a permanent employee. There are many staffing options available and each has some pros and cons,” avers Kaistha.

Trending upwards

Temp staffing has become a budding trend that is spreading across industries like FMCG, Telecom, IT, Engineering, Logistics, Retail and BFSI. “With India having a young population, a number of employees in the age group of 20-28, could find their first jobs through temping,” comments Kaistha.

However, it is noted that upward trending of contract staffing is highest in the IT/ITES industry vertical because this vertical is largely services (manpower) driven. Indap says, “Till about last year, contracting was about 3-7 percent of the total headcount of an IT company. This year it is on an 8-12 percent and in the next 3 to 5 years, it would be close to 40 percent.” Internationally, end-user companies tend to contract upwards of 60 percent of their headcount through contracting. “Retail industry is the next vertical poised to adopt contracting aggressively. Retail industry is also manpower intensive and they are realising the fact that contracting is the best solution to control workforce costs, attrition and quality,” he further adds.

Justifying compensation

It is noticed that there is a gradual shift in the mindset of the employees who are realising the benefit of contracting because they get the freedom to choose the type of work, duration of engagement and desired compensation, which at most times are better than being employed.

“With contracting, there is a huge opportunity to save/manage their personal taxes and getting maximum money in-hand. Some of them prefer to work on part-time basis where it could be 3 days a week or 10 hours a week or 10 days a month etc. This way they have an opportunity to pursue their hobbies or take up another assignment and achieve a good 'work-life' balance,” says Indap.

Contracting can enable a person to work with different companies on different tasks, enhancing their capability skill-set and have good visibility of the market and demand. Sometimes contracting also presents an opportunity to join full-time with a company of choice, which they otherwise may not have got. “The obvious benefit of permanent employment is job security and stability, although permanent employees don't have the kind of guarantees they once enjoyed. Another important consideration is the benefits the employer provides beyond pay. Full-time employees usually qualify for health insurance and vision coverage and company retirement plans,” comments Kaistha.

Gaining more steam?

Although ‘The Great Recession’ has supposedly ended and the economy is recovering, contract staffing has surged since 2006 and the trend indicates it will continue in the coming years. Kaistha avers, “With the wide acceptance of temp recruiting across several industries, the penetration level is expected to go up to 1.5-2% in the coming 5 years.”

Till recent years, contracting was looked-down upon by the society giving it a view of non-competence. India had grown up with the traditional thinking of 'get good grades, get a good job (preferably a Govt. job) and retire from the same job. This is no longer true. “Today, most IIM graduates are choosing to become entrepreneurs rather than take fat salaried job offer. Today, being a sound recordist or tarot reader is also a plausible career option. We are moving towards specialisation rather than generalization. Hence my view is that a decade from now, there will be no employees; only entrepreneurs; offering each other specialist service on contract basis,” concludes Indap.

 

 

 

 

 
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Top 15 Technology Trends Reshaping Fashion Retail in 2024: Dress for the Future
Top 15 Technology Trends Reshaping Fashion Retail in 2024: Dress for the Future
 

The fashion industry is in the midst of a digital revolution, with technology weaving its way into every aspect of retail, from design and production to marketing and customer experience. As we step into 2024, the pace of innovation continues to accelerate, presenting exciting opportunities for both established brands and emerging players. To stay ahead of the curve, understanding the key technology trends reshaping fashion retail is crucial.

This article dives deep into the top 15 trends that will have a significant impact in the coming year, providing insights and examples to help you leverage them for success. Whether you're a fashion designer, retailer, or simply an avid consumer, buckle up for a journey into the future of fashion.

1. Immersive Shopping Experiences:

Gone are the days of static images and basic product descriptions. Consumers crave engaging and interactive experiences, and technology is delivering. Here are the key drivers:

  • Augmented Reality (AR): Imagine virtually trying on clothes before buying them. AR superimposes digital clothing models onto users, allowing them to see how garments fit and look on their specific body type. This reduces returns and boosts customer satisfaction. (Source: The AR/VR Headset Market is Expected to Reach $20.4 Billion by 2024, Statista)
  • Virtual Reality (VR): Take things a step further by stepping into immersive, 3D virtual showrooms. Brands like Rebecca Minkoff and Tommy Hilfiger are already offering VR experiences, allowing customers to explore collections and interact with products in a realistic setting.
  • 3D Product Visualization: High-quality 3D models give a detailed view of products from all angles, zoom levels, and even in different lighting conditions. This enhances online shopping experiences and increases conversion rates. (Source: 3D Modeling Market to Reach $3.8 Billion by 2027, 3D Printing Industry)

2. Personalization at its Peak:

One-size-fits-all is a relic of the past. Consumers expect personalized experiences, and technology is making it possible:

  • AI-powered Recommendations: Leverage customer data and purchase history to suggest relevant products, predict styles they'll love, and offer personalized styling advice. (Source: 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with companies that offer personalized experiences, Epsilon)
  • Chatbots and Virtual Assistants: These AI-powered tools provide real-time customer support, answer product inquiries, and offer personalized recommendations, 24/7.
  • Dynamic Content: Showcasing products and offers tailored to individual preferences based on demographics, browsing behavior, and past purchases creates a more relevant and engaging experience.

3. Livestream Shopping Takes Center Stage:

Livestream shopping blends entertainment and real-time commerce, allowing brands to connect with audiences directly and generate instant sales. Expect to see:

  • Interactive Livestreaming: Viewers can ask questions, interact with hosts, and purchase products in real-time, creating a dynamic and engaging shopping experience.
  • Influencer Collaborations: Partnering with relevant influencers for livestream shopping events leverages their audience trust and drives sales.
  • Shoppable Livestreams: Products featured in the livestream are tagged and instantly purchasable, removing friction from the buying journey.

4. Omnichannel Integration Seamlessly Blends Online and Offline:

The lines between physical and digital retail are blurring. Here's how:

  • Click-and-Collect: Customers order online and pick up in-store, offering convenience and flexibility.
  • Buy Online, Return In-Store (BORIS): Allow customers to return online purchases to physical stores for added convenience.
  • Mobile Point-of-Sale (mPOS): Empower store associates with mobile devices to assist customers anywhere on the shop floor, enhancing the in-store experience.

5. Sustainability Takes Center Stage:

Consumers are increasingly conscious of the environmental impact of fashion. Technology is helping brands become more sustainable:

  • Transparency through Blockchain: Blockchain technology enables tracking the origin and journey of materials, ensuring ethical sourcing and responsible production.
  • Sustainable Materials and Production Processes: Utilizing recycled materials, organic fibers, and low-impact dyeing techniques is becoming increasingly important.
  • Circular Economy Initiatives: Resale platforms and rental services encourage clothing reuse and extend the life cycle of garments.

6. Voice Commerce Emerges as a Powerful Tool:

Voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant are changing how we interact with technology, and fashion is no exception. Expect to see:

  • Voice-activated Shopping: Purchase clothes hands-free using voice commands, ideal for multitasking or busy consumers.
  • Product Information and Reviews: Ask voice assistants for product details, size recommendations, and customer reviews for informed decision-making.

7. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Streamlines Operations:

AI is automating tasks and boosting efficiency across the fashion value chain:

  • Demand Forecasting: AI algorithms analyze sales data and trends to predict future demand, optimizing inventory management and reducing stockouts.
  • Automated Design and Production: AI can generate design ideas, personalize patterns, and even optimize production processes.
  • Fraud Detection and Prevention: AI helps identify and prevent fraudulent transactions, protecting both brands and customers.

8. The Rise of Social Commerce:

Social media platforms are evolving into powerful shopping destinations:

  • Shoppable Posts and Stories: Allow customers to purchase products directly through social media posts, eliminating the need to switch platforms.
  • Social Proof and Influencer Marketing: Leverage user-generated content and influencer partnerships to build trust and drive sales.
  • Social Gifting: Social media platforms are introducing gifting features, making it easier to purchase and send fashion items to friends and family.

9. The Metaverse Beckons:

The metaverse, a virtual world where people can interact, shop, and socialize, is still in its early stages, but fashion brands are already experimenting.

  • Virtual Fashion: Design and sell digital clothing items specifically for avatars within the metaverse.
  • Virtual Showrooms and Experiences: Create immersive virtual spaces where customers can explore collections and interact with brands.
  • NFTs and Digital Ownership: Offer unique, limited-edition digital fashion items secured through NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens).

10. Data-Driven Decision Making:

Data is king, and fashion brands are leveraging it to gain insights and make informed decisions:

  • Customer Analytics: Analyze customer behavior, preferences, and purchase history to understand their needs and personalize offerings.
  • Marketing Attribution: Measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns across different channels and optimize advertising spend.
  • Trend Forecasting: Identify emerging trends and styles based on social media data, search trends, and sales patterns.

11. Robotics and Automation Take Over Repetitive Tasks:

Robots are taking over repetitive tasks in warehouses and factories, improving efficiency and accuracy:

  • Automated Picking and Packing: Robots can speed up order fulfillment and reduce errors.
  • Quality Control and Inspection: Robots can inspect garments for defects with greater precision than humans.
  • Automated Customer Service: Chatbots powered by AI can handle basic customer inquiries, freeing up human agents for complex issues.

12. The Power of Community and Co-Creation:

Brands are building stronger relationships with customers by fostering a sense of community and co-creation:

  • User-Generated Content (UGC) Campaigns: Encourage customers to share photos and videos wearing your clothes, leveraging their authenticity and reach.
  • Crowdfunding and Collaborative Design: Allow customers to contribute to product design and development through crowdfunding platforms.
  • Loyalty Programs and Exclusive Experiences: Reward loyal customers with exclusive access to products, events, and experiences.

13. Cybersecurity Becomes Paramount:

As technology advancements create new opportunities, cybersecurity threats also evolve. Brands need robust security measures:

  • Data Protection: Implement strong data encryption and access controls to protect customer information.
  • Payment Security: Ensure secure payment gateways and transaction processing to prevent fraud.
  • Cybersecurity Awareness and Training: Educate employees about cybersecurity best practices to minimize risks.

14. The Future of Retail is Phygital:

The physical and digital worlds will converge further, creating seamless and engaging experiences.

  • Interactive In-Store Displays: Interactive displays with AR features and product information enrich the shopping experience.
  • Personalized In-Store Recommendations: Utilize customer data to offer personalized product recommendations while they shop in-store.
  • Frictionless Checkout: Implement self-checkout options and mobile payment solutions for faster and more convenient transactions.

15. Continuous Innovation is Key:

The fashion industry is constantly evolving, and staying ahead of the curve requires embracing continuous innovation. Here are some key strategies:

  • Invest in Research and Development: Allocate resources to explore emerging technologies and experiment with new solutions.
  • Partner with Tech Companies: Collaborate with technology providers to develop innovative solutions and access expertise.
  • Adopt an Agile Mindset: Be open to change, experiment quickly, and learn from failures to continuously improve.

By embracing these top 15 technology trends, fashion brands can unlock new opportunities, enhance customer experiences, and thrive in the ever-evolving retail landscape. Remember, this is just the beginning. The future of fashion is brimming with possibilities, and those who embrace technology will be the ones shaping it.

 

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