Changing demands from consumers mean retail businesses need to move quickly to keep up with technological advances. Here is why the right mix of youth and experience can spell the difference between success and being left behind.
Imagine ordering five pairs of glasses online – for free – just to try them on. And then, if you didn’t like any, sending them all back – again for free. Or what if in-store sales assistants could pull up your customer information on an iPad so they knew your tastes and preferences and could make recommendations without wasting your time? This is the reality for retail in the digital age. Customers are demanding more from their shopping experience and it’s up to retailers to step up to the plate or be left behind. In fact, both of the examples above are already in play in the market.
From apps, to product innovations, to improved service propositions, we’re seeing some really interesting developments in the retail market at the moment. It’s visible in all areas, from luxury fashion chains, where there is a greater focus on customer service and loyalty programmes in both online and brick-and-mortar stores, right through to FMCG producers, where we’re seeing a steep rise in healthier food options from big name brands. All of this is driven by technology – with more information at their fingertips, consumers are increasingly aware of what goes into their food products and are demanding better options.
Now, more than ever, customers expect to see results in real time. For online retailers, that means same-day delivery or central pick-up stations. All of which is great for the customer, and challenging for businesses. How can companies manage their supply chain process when customers expect everything as soon as possible? And how can retailers stay a step ahead of technological expectations? The key lies in smart hiring practices.
Of course, meaningful changes to retail practices needs to begin at the top, so any retailer that expects to make an impact in its customer service practices needs a solid C-suite that is 100% behind innovation.
Now, more than ever, customers expect to see results in real time. For online retailers, that means same-day delivery or central pick-up stations. All of which is great for the customer, and challenging for businesses.
Strong supply chain and logistics teams are vital – these are the team members that can identify cost-effective delivery solutions that delight customers and keep them on board. A solid tech team, made up of developers who have a strong business-driving focus as well as good tech skills, is just as important.
But what’s really making retail magic is the mix of experience and youth on a given team. Let’s face it, Gen Y have grown up in the digital age. They’re the first generation to really embrace e-commerce and to come of age on social media. They’ve been encouraged to embrace their own creativity their whole lives, so they’re great on marketing and strategy teams. But the innovators need guidance, and that’s where the old guard steps in. A retailer who wants to make an impact will have a strong talent management strategy, ensuring each team is made up of diverse ages and backgrounds, giving team members the best chance of learning from each other.
Structured mentorship programs are one way to enforce this, but chances are if you get the right mix, leadership will happen organically. Also, companies need to invest in talent development programs and offer structured career plans to Gen Y employees if they want to retain their young talent.
When experienced players act as mentors to Gen Y employees, a retailer has the best chance of harnessing the power of youth and the wisdom of experience to come up with solutions that impress and even surprise their customers. This will become more central to client retention as technology continues to move forward at lightning pace.
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Summary

In order to keep up with demand for increased digital capabilities and client customisation, retail brands should be proactively looking to improve their logistics. This will also help meet the growing need for faster and more transparent delivery solutions. One such option for optimising delivery is working with suppliers to improve efficiency.
Consider pairing more experienced members of your team with new hires that are part of Generation Y. This will allow younger and older employees to learn from one another.
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