TECHNOLOGY

Study: Retailers are eyeing a jump in sales — and seasonal workers — this holiday season

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Optimistic that holiday sales will increase this year, retailers are stepping up their seasonal hiring plans.

This was according to a new Korn Ferry retailer survey. The study, which was conducted in September, is based on responses from 20 major U.S. retailers representing $160 billion in sales, and 1 million employees.

According to data, nearly half of the respondents (45%) said they expect to see an increase in holiday sales in 2017, and none of the respondents expect a decrease in sales. To meet this expected demand, 80% are planning to hire the same or more seasonal workers than last year.

Hiring additional seasonal retail staff may prove to be difficult, however. Forty percent of respondents believe there will be fewer applicants in the candidate pool this year, and 40% anticipate paying higher hourly wages. Specifically, 40% of participants expect minimum wage increases and market increases in the retail industry to exacerbate the situation.

“Despite rocky times this year with brick-and-mortar store closings at near-record levels, a relatively strong economy is expected to bode well for retailers this holiday season,” said Craig Rowley Korn Ferry senior partner, consumer and retail. “However, competition will remain fierce and retailers must come up with innovative approaches to win over consumers and keep them loyal.”

To help differentiate themselves in the marketplace, 20% of respondents said they are placing a greater emphasis this year on hiring employees who align with their brand culture. Meanwhile, 15% said they are placing a greater emphasis on the in-store retail experience.

“While 75% of respondents say they will use their mobile platform to help drive sales this holiday season, it’s clear that they still are focusing on the traditional in-store experience,” said Rowley. “But that experience is changing by becoming more intimate and tailored to the specific demands of the shopper.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Online giant targets its newest shopper: teens

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon’s new program gives teenagers purchasing power.

The online giant is giving teens between the ages of 13 and 17 their own login to use on the Amazon app. The service, which requires parental consent, enables teens to shop or stream content without supervision. However, parents still have the power to approve all orders or set pre-approved spending limits – a move that keeps parents informed of shopping habits, while still giving the young shoppers a level of autonomy.

Here’s how the service works: Teens send an invitation to their parent through either SMS or email. The parent will choose a payment method and shipping addresses for their teen to use when placing orders. The teen then receives an invitation to create their own username and password, and then download the Amazon App to start shopping.

Once their account is established, teens can begin to browse the app. When they place an order, parents will receive a text or email showing the item, cost, shipping address and payment information. Teenage shoppers can also include a personalized note like, “this is the book I need for class.”

Parents can approve the order by text or they can visit their orders page to further review the order. They also have the option to skip the approval step and set pre-approved spending limit. Parents receive itemized notifications for every order, and can cancel and return any item in accordance with Amazon’s policies, the online retailer said.

The program also allows parents to share their Prime membership with their children, at no additional cost.

“We’ve listened to families and have built a great experience for both teens and parents,” said Michael Carr, VP, Amazon Households. “For teens who have a parent with a Prime membership, they can also access Prime benefits at no additional cost, including fast, free shipping, Prime Video and gaming benefits with Twitch Prime.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Warehouse club chain’s new digital tool drives in-store engagement

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Sam’s Club associates now have the information they need to improve shoppers’ in-store experiences in real-time.

By adopting the Medallia Experience Cloud solution, Sam’s Club is stepping up the functionality and performance of its Member Experience Voices (MxVoices) tool. This is a Web-based customer service feedback platform where members can rate their club experiences.

The platform is helping Sam’s Club’s fulfill its vision of engaging in two-way dialogue with members. Using a mobile device supported by the new architecture, associates can collect and access member feedback in MxVoices in real-time, and use the feedback to improve its member experience.

“With Medallia’s help, our associates have real-time and actionable data that help them provide the best possible shopping experience,” said Tracey Brown, Sam’s Club’s chief experience officer.

“Associates in every location have the information they need at their fingertips, 24/7, in an easy-to-use app,” she said. “That empowers them to take action to solve member problems, and we’re seeing member satisfaction scores rise as a result.”

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