Why retailers must provide seasonal employees with the necessary technical tools

Seasonal employees offer crucial support to retailers during the holidays. Here’s how you can best implement crucial technical tools that help them get the job done.

MWC19 Los Angeles: how digital transformation influences the shopping experience
The retail experience is changing digitally and retailers must jump on board to remain competitive.

With Black Friday and the holiday season around the corner, retailers are preparing for an influx of hectic customers. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), retailers will hire between 530,000 and 590,000 temporary workers during the 2019 public holidays to adequately address this increase in business.

SEE: Digital transformation in retail: how consumers use technology to make shopping easier and more enjoyable (TechRepublic)

Hiring extra help for the holidays is common in the retail trade, but more advanced retailers equip seasonal workers with technical aids and devices, particularly technology focused on mobility. This practice not only improves the shopping experience for customers, but also supports store employees in dealing with the large number of companies entering stores, says Ed Durbin, director of retail solutions at VMware.

“Leading retailers increase employee productivity and the customer experience with mobility by putting apps and real-time information within reach of employees via mobile devices,” Durbin said. “By arming seasonal employees with mobile devices – including smartphones, tablets, wearables and other connected devices – retailers want to improve customer service, simplify onboarding, optimize training, planning and inventory management.”

“Once equipped with a digital workspace, everything that seasonal workers need – access to product knowledge, inventory information and POS applications (POS applications) – is easily accessible from any device,” he added.

However, some retailers are wary of offering these options to seasonal workers, with delivery and safety being the main concern.

Potential challenges when hiring seasonal employees

A significant number of seasonal employees with technology can be difficult and expensive. However, the effort and costs become worthwhile when considering the benefits of this technology, Durbin said.

“Seasonal employees are called in to support during the busiest periods of the year from a retailer. As such, they need to be on board, trained and, ultimately, offboard with efficiency and speed,” Durbin said. “Retailers can facilitate onboarding, training, scheduling, inventory management, endless aisle transactions, and retirement of employees with role-based access through a digital workspace on their own and shared store devices.”

Using digital workspace technologies, retailers can program mobile devices in a few hours to prepare seasonal employees for the first day. Employers can also provide training modules, critical apps for fast onboarding and connection to back-end processes within reach, Durbin said.

“And at the end of the permanent appointment of seasonal employees to a company, the retailer’s IT team can remotely erase business data from mobile devices with just a few clicks,” Durbin added.

Security is another challenge. By giving these technical devices to seasonal workers, retailers are giving them access to company data and apps, Durbin said.

To prevent security issues, retailers can rely on “built-in security options, such as encryption, to protect data and at the same time allow endless aisle transactions that prevent the loss of a sale,” Durbin said.

Although these concerns are justified, retailers must recognize that this technology is now necessary to remain relevant and successful in their industry.

The shopping experience is now personal, and the ability to win customer loyalty is the biggest opportunity for brands that want to rethink traditional shopping experiences, “said Durbin. Employees need the best service customers.”

“By transforming store experiences with robust service everywhere – at end points, in stores and beyond – a digital workspace can improve brand loyalty,” he said.

For more information, check out 10 technologies that are leading the digital transformation in retail on ZDNet.

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