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Retail

Was reading the National Retail Federation’s forecast for Holiday 2011.

One topic caught my eye: the expected level of seasonal store-level employment.

The NRF expects that the industry will hire between 480,000 and 500,000 seasonal workers this year, roughly equal to last year’s 495,000.

We can expect a majority of those individuals to be in the stores – hired at the store, for the store.

A big question for retailers in this omnichannel world: What’s guiding the hiring?  Comp-store forecasts or the needs of the omnichannel shopper? If it’s store-level revenue, there’s a good chance of a critical mismatch between the needs of the brand and the level of onsite support.

According to Google and Ipsos OTX research on US shopper behavior in the 2010 holiday season, some one-fifth of all shoppers took a look at products in the store before they went online with a PC to buy.  Fourteen percent did so before they purchased products online through a smartphone.

One of every five shoppers, using the store as a physical-tactile-sensory search experience.

If you’re cutting store-level staff because comps are expected to be flat or down, will you be able to assist those inquisitive, searching shoppers? And – more important – if you’re cutting store-level staff (and ignoring in-store interactive, web-based technology), will you be able to convert those shoppers (regardless of channel) inside your brand?

Today’s omnichannel reality is turning most standard retail practices upside down.

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