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Three Ways People Analytics Can Help Retailers Right Now

As retail sales slide, retailers feel pressure to keep customers and employees happy. Retailers can use people analytics to build engaged teams.

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As retail sales rates continue to slide, retailers are feeling the pressure to keep customers happy. But they also have to maintain business continuity while addressing transformation, supply chain, and inflation challenges. An engaged workforce at every level, with the right skills for retail, is vital to achieving these goals. 

But engaging retail employees—with its variety of roles and shift patterns—is no easy task. A lack of meaningful interaction from employers can often cause retail employees to view work as a transactional relationship in which they sacrifice their time for a wage. This leads to disengaged staff and increased turnover. Retail managers are then unable to implement sustainable workforce planning, which inevitably leads to a negative customer experience.

Plus, the diminishing recruitment pool makes matters even more complicated. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that retail industry vacancies in the UK peaked at the start of this year at 107,000. As we head into 2023, it’s settled down to 95,000—the top end of vacancies reported over the past 20 years. 

Here are three ways people analytics can help retailers right now.

Develop a dynamic HR strategy

Pulling in data from across the business, people analytics puts crucial real-time insights into the hands of managers and senior leadership. These insights help identify key trends affecting the workforce, such as the reasons behind employee churn and the effectiveness of engagement and training strategies. Other retail use cases include identifying and closing skills gaps and assessing how digital transformation of the customer experience is working in practice. 

An elevated customer experience ultimately depends on an elevated employee experience. It’s impossible to deliver the former if your people are unhappy and would rather be elsewhere. People analytics helps develop a responsive, proactive, and targeted HR strategy that enables you to attract and retain the staff you need. 

Empower retail managers to move away from guesswork

Gut feelings and guesswork can only get you so far. To truly achieve business goals, you need data to inform your decisions. For example, when restructuring, companies may be tempted to make staff cuts solely to save costs. But how do they know which employees would be more costly to lose?

With a CHRO at the leadership table, equipped with comprehensive people data, there is a far greater chance that crucial skills, knowledge, and the business potential of the best talent and teams are not lost. 

These types of insights empower business leaders and retail managers to anticipate the wider impact that losing certain people may have on company growth. But as today’s leaders face immense operational and financial pressure, they will need to be convinced of these benefits through verifiable, credible information and data.

Reviewing pay levels can prove to be another valuable tool in easing stress during a cost of living crisis, but sometimes that’s easier said than done. Including up-to-date compensation data from outside of the organization is essential to understanding if what you are offering is realistically attractive. If you’re not regularly doing and discussing this, that’s a red flag that assumptions outweigh data in your organization. 

With the right data, you can determine how to sustainably raise wages, so you can invest in the people you need to retain, represent your brand, and better deliver the customer experience that will keep customers coming back to your brick and mortar or online outlets.

Motivate and reward retail employees intelligently

With deeper insight into the goals and ambitions of individuals, HR or P&O can more effectively embolden top talent with incentives to progress and grow with the business. In any case, training and reskilling staff benefits the organization as well as the individual in the majority of instances. 

The right training encourages growth while bolstering employee engagement and developing a bank of future skills for retail that all businesses need. However, to understand return on investment from training and development programs, the business must be able to quickly understand who is learning what and how much they value that. 

Without data around such activities, learning programs can be perceived as ineffective overheads with minimal benefit. With decent data, you can defend and grow effective learning programs which will support a people-first culture. 

Where to next?

There is an urgent need for data-driven, people-first strategies that will withstand all conditions, including the looming recession. To be agile, business leaders need strategic insights and the ability to model—quickly and accurately—how turnover trends impact revenue and profits.

Unlocking value from people data is how retail businesses can face today’s market and economic challenges to enhance customer experiences and ultimately drive revenue and performance. With the basics in place, your organization can embark on a rich and rewarding journey towards anticipating your future workforce needs and take a more proactive approach to supporting your retail staff and business.

These are just some of the ways using data to put your people first can help retailers through tough times. Read our white paper to find out more.

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