Retailers have been under pressure as inflation, supply chain problems, and recession threatens consumer spending, impacting their bottom line. As a result, many are leaning into promotional sales periods as a way to push inventory to consumers, ensuring they receive a portion of the limited discretionary spending.  

To keep up with shifting demand, retailers are in a critical moment when they need associates to be efficient, supported and connected to retailers’ goals. To do so, retailers, many of whom operate on outdated staffing technology, can quickly implement new solutions that will not only help retain talent during these critical months, but also recruit it as well. 

Increasing the ease of communications 

Some retailers don’t have a uniform workplace communications tool. They rely on paper schedules and time-off requests being sorted out behind the scenes, handwritten suggestions and feedback from customers or management in boxes, and group text messages to coordinate shifts. However, utilizing a common platform to synchronize efforts would lead to a faster onboarding process while cutting down the time employees spend searching for answers to questions or requests. 

With hybrid work schedules varying hours or requirements for staff to be on-site, a focus on automating and enabling seamless communications within the organization and with customers and partners has taken precedent. Deploying the right communications solutions allows a hybrid workforce to participate in a broadening array of care scenarios that include live support chats, video chat with store employees, person-to-person from stores, and via automated response systems. Outside of customer care, employees feel the benefit too as they can stay in touch in an easier fashion, often resulting in a higher sense of support from their employers. All of these are profoundly easier with a unified service/investment from a retailer, and the benefits begin to pay off almost immediately. 

Omnichannel and Webex experience to support staffing 

Customers demand a seamless experience using retailers’ apps or when they’re in-store during their buying journey. They want content in a format where they’re comfortable without interruption. When apps crash, when they take too long to load, or when they can’t compare products, consumers often abandon the retailer in favor of another one that can provide convenience. Retailers have to treat the employee experience like the customer experience. Younger staff expect to use the same devices and apps on the job as they would at home. If they run into these similar issues, they also will get flustered and not view a retailer as highly as potential competitors. 

Omnichannel experience expands deeper into the onboarding process as well. Instead of waiting for interviewees to come into a location, retailers can interview around 50 applicants in a day with well-supported communications channels. From there they can share paperwork and communicate all in one location, improving the employee experience. 

Security and access 

With hybrid work environments, secure remote access to retail IT systems has become even more essential as staff use personal devices to carry out work functions. These devices have varying levels of security and are used on networks that are not controlled by the retail organization. As a result, retailers struggle with securing work devices on unsecured networks like public hotspots and home networks. 

This is a huge area of investment not only for the benefit of retailers, but also for their staff. Many retailers are still not mobile-first as they use legacy systems which place an inconvenience on their staff. Those that can promote convenience and safety will be more aligned with potential recruits and current employees. Securing crucial company software and systems to prevent outages will lead to less frustration among staff and improve their engagement. 

With retailers in a crucial sales period, it’s vital that their staff has the tools they need to operate efficiently and happily. Although there are endless technology solutions that retailers are investing in as they continue their digital transformation journeys, retailers that meet their associate’s needs are in a better position to succeed. Technological solutions have the ability to increase employee engagement, which will vastly improve sales, efficiency, and even help in recruiting. 

Cisco can help provide the tools you need for your retail organization.

Check out our Portfolio explorer to dive into the use cases relevant to your retailer.  


Kevin Yarnell

Senior Executive - Americas

Retail and Hospitality