Hiring for the Holidays: What Retailers Need to Succeed
With the holidays right around the corner, retailers are already setting up for the biggest shopping season of the year. This year, retail revenue for the holidays is expected to surpass $1 trillion, compared to last year’s total of $626.1 billion.
One of the many holiday preparations brands are making to deal with this influx is bulking up in-store resources. At least 700,000 short-term retail jobs are assumed to be added across the U.S. this holiday season, helping brands fill gaps in-stores and on the back-end.
Target was the first retailer to announce it will be hiring 75,000 short-term employees for the 2016 holiday season and J.C. Penney quickly followed suit revealing its plans to bring on 40,000 seasonal employees. With these hiring increases, retailers are looking to deliver a strong omnichannel customer experience during the holidays, but to achieve this brands need to focus on few key areas.
Get aligned and get on board
Success this season begins with getting new employees started on the right foot. With thousands of new employees coming onboard, quick, yet comprehensive training will be the key to strong teams. While some retailers will need to set brand expectations and holiday policies early-on, many will have to keep in mind that new hires don’t have the luxury to learn over time. Although customer expectations continue to increase, brands will need to remember that their reputation lies with their employees who need to be supported and remain informed.
Developing documentation around employee expectations and brand standards is a great way to start the onboarding process, and ensures employees know what to do under high-stress times.
A great way to keep employees and managers up-to-date, is to create and share information in real-time. With access to updated reports and data, teams across all your locations will be able to move quickly and create a seamless experience in the run-up to the holidays. By creating this knowledge share up and down the chain, retailers will be able to keep everyone moving in the same direction towards company goals.
However, alignment across the company shouldn’t be limited to sharing company information and documents, but extended to each of your brand’s connected channels. Regardless of which channel consumers shop on this season, consumers expect brand consistency, and retailers need to be prepared to deliver.
One brand, one experience
Whether on their smartphones or in-stores, today’s consumers expect their shopping experience to be fast, convenient, and consistent. When it comes to online shopping, consumers want their goods to be delivered faster than last year, while some may be turned off by the risks and anxieties associated with missing packages and the hassle of dealing with returns.
As a result, many consumers will turn to an omnichannel experience of both online and offline throughout the holiday season. With these expectations in mind, retailers will need to bolster teams across their stores, fulfillment warehouses, and e-commerce teams in order to be ready for the rush.
For brands, this means creating a consistent experience with transparency across all locations and platforms, including online and in-store teams. Avoiding internal confusion and mistakes can start with providing access to data all teams can benefit from, such as inventory information, scheduled deliveries, and following best practices.
While the rush of the holiday season may drive teams to divide or dissolve, retailers will need to align their teams with shared company goals in order foster collaboration and cooperation across the organization. Instead of competing against one another, creating synergy between e-commerce and in-store teams will be critical for brand success and a seamless customer experience.
While the holiday season is crucial for retailers, brands don’t have to start on a blank page. Evaluating successful strategies over the year will help determine strengths and weaknesses allowing brands to pinpoint new opportunities for a strong season.
Additionally, analyzing and dissecting trends and successes across stores and online can inform strategies to finish the season and carry on into 2017.
Retailers that take the time to focus on alignment and an omnichannel shopping experience will develop strong teams that are in-sync and ready to deliver a successful holiday season.
Chris Taylor, CEO of Square Root, provider of store relationship management (SRM) software for managing corporate, store, and field operations data.
Gap veteran fills top marketing spot at Old Navy
Who says you can’t go home again?
Certainly not Gap Inc., which appointed Jamie Gersch as the senior VP, chief marketing officer of its Old Navy banner, reported adage.com. She replaces Ivan Wicksteed, who left the company in March. She will come aboard at the end of October.
Gersch most recently served as chief marketing officer of women’s apparel retailer Charlotte Russe. Prior to that, she spent 14 years at Gap Inc., including a stint as marketing VP at Old Navy. During this tenure, she oversaw communication strategy across all channels and led annual and seasonal marketing.
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Report: EMV delays slow security efforts
One year later, retailers still await the promise of chip-card security.
The one-year anniversary of the Europay, MasterCard, Visa (EMV) mandate is looming, yet delays by the card industry have left thousands of new chip readers unused and consumers with far less improvement in security than what was expected, according to a recent survey from the National Retail Federation.
Fifty-seven percent (57%) of participating retailers said they already installed the equipment but still need certification by the card industry to turn on devices. Meanwhile, 60% of these companies said they had been waiting six months or longer, the report said.
“Retailers have spent billions of dollars to install the new equipment, but card companies have failed to sign off on the installations in a timely manner,” said NRF senior VP and general counsel Mallory Duncan. “Many retailers have had new chip card readers sitting next to their cash registers for a year waiting for the card companies’ blessing.”
In the meantime, 86% of retailers overall are hopeful they will have their EMV chip card technology fully implemented by the end of 2016. While they are eager to take advantage of the technology, retailers said they are also working on technologies like tokenization and encryption to further protect card data, the report said.
“The new cards provide just a fraction of the security they could because they are only chip-and-signature rather than the chip-and-PIN used throughout the rest of the industrialized world,” Duncan added. “Without a secret PIN, virtually any illegible scrawl of a signature is good enough for a criminal to use an innocent person’s credit card with or without a chip.”