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The technology helping retail operators solve the retail staffing challenge

December 12, 2019

The retail landscape is undergoing a fundamental transformation. The rise of online shopping and delivery, digital experiences, augmented reality and shifting economics are transforming shopping malls. Simultaneously, the nature of work itself is changing, as a Gen-Z and millennial workforce seeks more flexibility and more rewarding roles. Malls and retail venues are becoming community hubs, with stores complemented by more options for dining, entertainment and community.

Staffing has always been a challenge in the retail space, with periods of high demand and volume balanced by quieter periods. Old methods of recruitment are no longer resonating with a technically savvy audience. Yet there are opportunities amongst the challenges.

Innovative operators, such as landlords, real estate investment trusts and venues such as sports and entertainment facilities, have found that there is significant upside to building and engaging workforces. New technologies improve the recruiting process, and by making work fun and rewarding, employees enjoy coming into work. They remain in the mall, creating a stronger sense of community, and spending both their time and their wages back into their local environment. Furthermore, operators can now generate net-new revenue streams from tenants and candidates to increase asset value of their properties.

While online shopping and delivery continues to grow, so too can physical commerce. Wirkn has helped partners such as Ivanhoe Cambridge, Related, Cadillac Fairview, Cominar, Oxford Properties and others.

Wirkn has published a white paper, by CDO Devrin Carlson-Smith, which examines three trends that are transforming retail, and creating new opportunities for operators.

Trend 1 - Using Video and AI to Remove Friction for Recruitment

The days of sifting through paper resumes are long gone, with innovative hiring managers tapping new technologies to post roles, find the right candidates, filter and screen them and onboard them quickly. Millennial and Gen-Z candidates want to showcase their skills and interests, and are turning to employers who provide better ways to do this. Using video in for interviews in real-time, or allowing candidates to submit short video profiles, helps them present their true self, showing their demeanour and personality. 

Platforms that allow candidates to prepare profiles lets them showcase their technical and other skills as well as their availability, which saves hiring managers time and helps them find the best candidates for their open roles.

Trend 2 - Operators are creating new services and revenue streams

Operators are leveraging new technologies to engage shoppers - encouraging loyal clientele to spend more time at their locations. Retailers and service providers recognize that staffing is the most foundational element of delivering great customer experience, so many retail tenants are looking at ways to improve their hiring function. 

Retail operators can use platforms like Wirkn to help provide a better staffing experience, providing a pool of able, enthusiastic and available talent that is ready to work and help tenants deliver to shoppers and customers.

Trend 3 - The Gig Economy, and the changing nature of work

Millennial and Gen-Z make up a large share of the retail and service sector workforce, and this tech-savvy audience is looking for more control, flexibility and transparency in their work. While full-time and part-time jobs will continue, many workers are seeking flexible options as well, such as working during school breaks or at the holidays, or for major events such as Black Friday. Employers are leveraging technology that helps them quickly tap a qualified pool of candidates and be able to quickly screen and select the right person for the job.

Delivering better customer experiences through staffing innovation

The changing retail landscape provides opportunities for operators to deliver a more valuable experience to their tenants, and to their customers. Staffing has historically been viewed through the lens of a ‘cost center’, however it should actually be perceived as a means to add value and to create revenue back to the operator.

Workers are looking for more flexibility in how they find and apply for work, and to have greater transparency and control in how they are rewarded for this work. They want simple, easy ways to identify ideal opportunities and a single, easy-to-use platform to show their best selves when applying. Hiring managers want a simpler and more reliable way to list opportunities, find qualified candidates and make faster hiring decisions. 

Operators are looking at how to offer more value to their tenants, with staffing providing an opportunity to justify lease fees, or to develop new fees and charges on transactional or recurring basis.