The faces of teams in retail are changing at such a rapid pace – all rushing to jump on the online retail band wagon and survive the tsunami of retail store closures across the country.
If established giants like BHS have to close the doors of their retail empire and make thousands of people redundant after years of loyal service, then many of these specialists will need to face considerable change and head towards the promised land of online retail.
A number of challenges for those coming from traditional retail wishing to join the ecommerce world include the fact that the two worlds are so far apart in terms of hands-on skills and the channel experience required. There needs to be training available for traditional retail staff to be able to bridge the gaps of their experience and learn new skills and methodologies to do their new jobs effectively in a digital economy.
Effective resourcing and recruiting for online retail requires L&D and HR teams to be fully conversant about the differences between offline and online roles: which skills are transferable, whether staff understand the difference between driving traffic to an online store versus managing the online trading, and if they are analysing the CPAs, CTRs, AOVs and resulting ROIs!
A new set of requirements
Brands and their HR teams could source people more effectively by looking in their own back yards and training people up to take on new opportunities in the world of ecommerce.
Roles such as digital marketing, online trading, business and web analytics, digital design, content writing etc… The list of new channels and roles / requirements is huge and forever growing with spin-offs being created constantly.
Experience is the key factor – skills can be taught by both sets of candidate types.
Reviewing the development of your people by understanding who they are and what hands-on skills and knowledge they have, coupled with the experience, wisdom and a whole host of skills and strategic ideas they have that are yet to be tapped into can be an arduous task, but well worth the effort and long term cost savings.
You need a healthy combination of two types of candidates to balance your teams. Hire smart millenials that have formally studied in the new omnichannel world, but pair them up with existing employees who have the subject matter knowledge and tried & tested experience. Experience is the key factor – skills can be taught by both sets of candidate types.
Talk to your employees
To better understand who brings what to the table, use a range of people profiling methodologies on all applicants, starting internally first.
Profile people for their skills, achievements, experience, specialist knowledge, behaviours, competency and get to know their personalities.
Ensure all the HR, recruitment and L&D teams fully understand the subject matter of the roles they are recruiting for so that profiling candidates for those roles can be as productive as possible.
A new methodology
We are currently working on creating courses to help train HR staff on more effective resourcing and recruitment by providing insider tips on specialist subject areas, such as digital marketing recruitment.
We are also working with leading industry experts to create a fool-proof method to better profile individuals, and currently testing out these methodologies with key brands (you can keep up to date with our latest methods on our Facebook page).
Only use specialist recruiters when needed, ie. for highly skilled roles or senior appointments.
To summarise, I would suggest that retail brands look to upskill their existing staff through profiling, digital change exploration exercises with staff, and training on the digital roles – instead of just hiring new people for standard roles.
Only use specialist recruiters when needed, ie. for highly skilled roles or senior appointments. The aforementioned training and profiling will ensure that these external hires bridge the painful gaps with the experience and knowledge they bring from competitor brands.
With 5 years of recruitment experience in the world of ecommerce and digital marketing, plus 10 years experience in the field both agency and client side, my experiences have led me to create the above methodology that optimises resourcing and recruitment, with the target of reducing crazy recruitment fees for candidates who are generally poorly-matched to roles. Interviewing hundreds of people has helped me realise what's fundamentally missing in their experience and the recruitment process.
Profile, train and promote from within as the first port of call.