Many businesses have felt the strain of post-pandemic labor shortages, especially retailers. According to Deloitte, 7 out of 10 executives in the retail industry believe that labor is the primary challenge heading into 2023. The study also found that 94 percent of employees are concerned about how the labor shortages will affect their roles and responsibilities.
In addition to decreased labor pools, labor costs in the U.S. have experienced the most significant increase in more than 20 years, rising 4 percent year over year, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
As a result, many retailers are looking to invest in technology that can help fill the gaps in their labor pools, augment their existing teams, recruit new talent, and make jobs more appealing to those in the workforce by automating and/or eliminating repetitive and time-consuming tasks.
Filling the Labor Gap
Retailers are looking for technology that can help reduce the need for human labor and tap into new talent pools. Here are a few ways technology can help retailers accomplish this:
- E-commerce capabilities. Online shopping allows consumers to find and purchase products without needing human interaction. Technology that supports e-commerce improves the customer experience for those looking for streamlined digital shopping options.
- AI chatbots. Using AI-powered chatbots for online inquiries and support reduces the need for human labor in customer service departments.
- Virtual assistants. Advanced virtual assistants can recommend products, personalize promotions, and more. Virtual assistants can also handle repetitive inquiries, allowing live agents to manage more complex interactions.
- Self-service options. Online support enables customers to get answers to questions on their own, lessening the stress on employees and speeding up resolution times for customers.
Augmenting Existing Teams
Worker augmentation is another area where technology can help retailers better manage fluctuations in the labor market. Cloud contact centers offer functionalities that help retailers do more work with fewer employees. Here are a few functions that a contact center as a service (CCaaS) solution like GoContact can provide:
- Omnichannel communications. With an omnichannel contact center, agents can engage customers on a variety of channels, including phone, email, webchat, and social media, reducing the need for additional staff to manage each channel separately.
- CRM integrations. Integrating a CRM with a cloud contact center allows inbound calls to be matched to customer records, enabling agents to handle more calls in a given time period. It also allows agents to personalize customer interactions based on customer account history, which speeds up interactions and improves the customer experience.
- Scripted Workflow. Agent support tools, like GoContact’s Scripted Workflow feature, can quickly provide context to a customer’s request or automatically suggest answers for the agent. Scripted Workflow also facilitates on-the-job training for new agents and helps resolve issues quickly so fewer agents can serve an increasing number of clients.
- Analytics. Cloud contact centers provide real-time data and analytics that allow retailers to optimize staffing levels based on call volume, peak times, and other factors. These reports can help retailers avoid overstaffing or understaffing and allocate labor resources more efficiently.
Recruiting New Talent
Retailers are not only struggling with finding talent to fill their jobs — they’re competing with other retailers in the job market. Cloud based technologies can help in two critical ways:
- Remote work opportunities. Cloud technologies allow retailers to hire customer service representatives who can work remotely from anywhere with an internet connection. This enables retailers to tap into a larger talent pool, including those in more affordable markets.
- Increased flexibility. CCaaS solutions offer flexible scheduling options, which can attract workers who have other commitments such as caregiving responsibilities, schooling, or additional jobs. By offering flexible work arrangements, retailers can attract a broader range of workers. Flexibility and respect for work-life balance also increase employee morale and engagement, which reduces turnover rates.
Contact Centers Enable Retailers to Do More with Less
The rising costs of labor and labor shortages are forcing retailers to invest in technological solutions that enable employees to do more work with fewer employees. Contact center solutions answer many of the labor demands placed on retailers while also streamlining communications and collaboration among stakeholders.
Contact us to learn how GoContact can help your retail business improve efficiencies and combat the labor shortage.