When you think of recruiting in retail, you need to think about customer experience first. The entire success of a 

well -oiled retail machine comes down to the shopping experience. Of course, price, product and store location are parts of the equation, but nothing beats a great customer experience. Unfortunately, for brick and mortar business, recruiting is extremely challenging. High employee turnover, which means that many employees leave voluntarily, can reach 100% is some cases. In fact, the department of labor reported that 570,000 separations took place in the retail sector during September 2010; which is insane! As you can imagine, there are many reasons for such turn: pay, management, job duties, etc. So right now you may be saying “Poor HR;" not so fast! The real pain is felt with the VP of Store Operations.

The VP of Store Operations wears many hats. Ultimately, their job is to carry out the strategies formulated by the CEO to meet corporate goals. There are many KPI’s that help determine whether or not a store is passing or failing, which falls directly on the VP of Store Operations. The largest metric is Same Store Sales. Same-store sales is a business term which refers to the difference of revenue generated by a retail chain's existing stores over a certain period (often a fiscal quarter or a particular shopping season), compared to an identical period in the past (usually in the previous year). Most of the positive or negative impact of this metric relies on the staff at the store level. For instance, higher average purchases and/or more frequent customer visits; cross selling into a broader product range or up-selling to more expensive ones cannot happen without a great team. Now you know why staffing keeps the VP of Operations up at night more than anyone else.

So the next question is what can be done? The good news is that Talent Leaders within this sector are forward thinking and constantly preparing for this scenario. Obviously, the most common strategy is to have evergreen positions posted everywhere your budget allows. I know the argument here is quality vs. quantity. I’m a big believer in this case, the more candidates, the better. We have also seen in-store kiosks work and now the emergence of social media will certainly help get the word out. In my humble opinion, I firmly believe a strong employer brand is the most important component when it comes to store recruiting. Most people may not view retail as a career path, so to be able to communicate the company’s image as seen through the eyes of its associates to potential hires will ultimately determine success. Since many customers can qualify as potential employees, I think a task force comprised of Internal Marketing (those chasing customers) and Talent Acquisition (those chasing candidates) is the perfect combination to deliver the perfect message. After all, no customers, no sales….no staff, no store experience.

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