As we find ourselves at the peak of the holiday shopping season, retailers have found ways to navigate numerous obstacles including supply chain disruptions, fluctuating consumer behaviors and continued challenges due to COVID-19. An additional thorn in the side for retailers across all verticals is the current labor shortage. Condensed hours, “Now Hiring” signs and pieced together shifts have become daily reminders of what retailers are dealing with.

Then, in the midst of this reality, holiday sales are on track to blow past the record for spending as consumer demand continues to grow and with it comes considerable increases in store foot traffic.  A recent ICSC survey revealed half of U.S. consumers plan to make more trips to stores to shop for presents this year and 85% of shoppers intend on spending money in physical stores.

So, how can retailers keep up with this demand and continue to meet their customers with the same level of service and experience despite a shortage of staff? How are retailers positioning themselves as an attractive place to work as they look to acquire new staff for the holidays?

The answer is digitizing and modernizing the associate experience. Retailers across the board are spending more time and resources strengthening the associate experience and focusing on the most foundational component of their retail operations, their people. As a customer’s experience is only as good as their interaction with an associate, the associate experience is only as good as the digital tools they are working with.

Here are Cisco’s four key components for Enhancing the Associate Experience in Retail:

  1. Multi-channel fulfillment: Consumers have no tolerance for out-of-stocks and will abandon a cart and brand if one item in the cart isn’t available. Retailers must ensure inventory is accurate and readily accessible, so associates know what is available in stores and via other channels to be able to accurately communicate such information with customers.
  2. Assisted selling: Empowering associates to deliver information, products, and services wherever and however customers want to receive them is an important part of creating a positive customer experience as 83% of shoppers think they know more than store associates.
  3. Digital training and communication: The cost and time of onboarding new staff and training existing staff continues to rise. Developing and delivering training content in a way that is easily consumed and incorporated into associate workflow is vital for retailers who need to be efficient during the holiday shopping season.
  4. Mobile POS and line busting: Customers have become accustomed to shopping whenever they want from wherever they happen to be and associates need to be flexible, mobile and securely connected to information to process a sale in the store and beyond.


Scott Lantis

Marketing Manger Global Industries