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3 Free Resources to Boost Employee Productivity in Retail

In an era of omni-channel shopping, retail employees need to understand the latest trends in their industry. Here, we uncover the three most important trends and free resources to help them learn more.

As retail becomes more digital and retail and consumer goods (RCG) leaders face mandates to maximise employee productivity without increasing headcount, retail leaders must focus on upskilling their existing employees with the critical skills needed for retail’s digital future. 

These are the most important retail trends they need to be across, paired with free tools to help them upskill.

The omni-channel shopping landscape

As shopping has become increasingly digital, your customers are no longer happy to drag themselves to a store to return a product; nor are they willing to wait for hours on end to speak to a customer support representative. Today’s consumers expect seamless and connected digital experiences, wherever they are. This is called omni-channel shopping, and it’s here to stay. 

Behind every customer interaction is an employee, and to keep up with your digitally-savvy customers and win their loyalty, they need to be able to engage your customers across any channel they might interact with your brand.

There’s just one elephant in the room: talent shortages. In 2022, Australia and New Zealand saw record-low unemployment rates, coupled with widespread talent movements and digital skills shortages

So, what’s a retailer to do? 

The answer lies in investing in your current people, by looking for opportunities for upskilling and professional development. Candidates and existing employees want to feel invested in, with 57% of candidates looking for training opportunities and 52% prioritising ongoing learning and development.

This presents an exciting opportunity for HR professionals and people managers in the RCG space: they can maximise the capabilities of their existing employees without increasing headcount, while also preparing employees to thrive in an omni-channel shopping landscape. It’s a win-win. 

Here, we’ll outline the three most important digital trends your employees need to be across, paired with free (yes, free!) resources you can lean on to upskill them.

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expert tips from Australian retail leaders

Trend 1: improving the customer experience using data and personalisation

Being able to glean insights from your customer data is no longer a nice to have. Your customers want you to understand their needs and tailor recommendations and products accordingly. In fact, 48% of customers say they lose trust in a brand when they receive communications that don’t match their interests. 

To understand consumer behaviour and tailor experiences accordingly, retail professionals must first be across digital metrics. Once they understand the analytics, they can use these insights to personalise interactions that will help build trust and loyalty. 

And yet, only 32% of retail executives feel they have the full ability to turn data into personalised prices, offers, and products in real-time across different channels and touchpoints. 

To help your employees learn how to personalise customer offerings, here are some courses that will help them develop critical knowledge in data analytics and recommendation tailoring. 

Trend 2: Creating frictionless omni-channel customer experiences (with a personal touch)

Consumers expect seamless omni-channel shopping experiences. In fact, Salesforce research found that 61% of customers switched brands at least once in the last year to seek out better customer experiences elsewhere. Meanwhile, 83% of customers say they’re more loyal to companies that provide consistency across departments.

But consistency doesn’t mean identical. They still expect a personal touch; customers want brands to see them as more than a number in an anonymous system. In fact, 62% of customers feel an emotional connection to the brands they buy from most. Interactions that feel impersonal – like receiving irrelevant offers or waiting on hold – run the risk of alienating customers and damaging hard-won relationships.

The challenge for your employees is being able to deliver those seamless and personalised interactions — across email, social media, the website and in-store – that seamlessly pick up from where the customer left off. 

To set your employees up for success, they need to have a customer’s information and previous history with your brand all in one place. 

Here are some useful resources to help them build those frictionless experiences across any channel:  

Trend 3: Developing a brand that keeps customers loyal

For every brand, gaining your customer’s loyalty is a win-win scenario. Not only do you create brand advocates and secure ongoing interactions with your brand, but you can also gain a wealth of zero-party data on their preferences

But, winning their loyalty is no easy task. With thousands of brands competing for your customer’s attention, retailers need to rethink their approach to loyalty programs and train employees to offer loyalty experiences your customers will love

A top-performing brand loyalty program will help brands drive down costs, boost retention and improve a customer’s lifetime value. According to McKinsey, a top-performing loyalty program can boost revenue by 15-25% annually. It’s at least five times more expensive for businesses to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one. 

So, how can retail leaders educate their teams on loyalty management? Here are some resources they may find helpful. 

How to tackle talent shortages in retail

Of course, upskilling your employees to excel in these trends is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to tackling talent shortages in the retail and consumer goods industry. Take a look at our latest eBook, Tackling Talent Shortages, with insights from three industry-leading companies that are reimagining recruiting, retaining and developing talent to solve the digital skills shortage. 

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Salesforce Staff

The 360 Blog from Salesforce teaches readers how to improve work outcomes and professional relationships. Our content explores the mindset shifts, organizational hurdles, and people behind business evolution. We also cover the tactics, ethics, products, and thought leadership that make growth a meaningful and positive experience.

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