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Fibre2Fashion
Published
Jun 2, 2016
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Store associates unsung heroes of retail

By
Fibre2Fashion
Published
Jun 2, 2016

The 2016 A.T. Kearney Achieving Excellence in Retail Operations (AERO) study has found that while so much focus is on the consumer of the future, on new and exciting technologies, and on social media engagement around the globe, the real heroes of store operations are in-store associates, and they are often being overlooked. The study by the global management consulting firm has stressed that people are still the best investment for retail operations.



“Customers say that experience and service have the greatest impact on store productivity. Yet we consistently find that store associates get little investment focus,” the AERO study said.

Nearly half of retailer respondents indicated that employee training programs could be “significantly improved.” More than 70 per cent of retailers expect spans of control to widen in the immediate future. And nearly all express concern regarding their workforce’s ability to adapt to a new omnichannel environment.

“In our opinion, it’s not that retailers have had store associates with poor skillsets, but rather that they have not had the right focus on what it takes to properly support in-store staff,” the study said.

Store associates are the most important assets retailers have, and they are central to the future of any store. Investments should focus on the core fundamentals of what it takes to support store associates: training, incentives, career progression, and corporate support to meet expectations. Interestingly, about three-quarters of retailers plan to invest in more training and labour, but right now the workforce needs more support to do its most critical task: deliver superior customer service.

According to the study, while technology is the number one retail investment today, there’s limited visibility on the returns on investment. Amid the noise of technology investment and omnichannel integration, store associates are often overlooked as crucial conduits for improved store performance.

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