40% of retail workers feel tech needs are ignored

Scandit’s new ‘Frontline Retail Revealed’ report explores how technology impacts job satisfaction and loyalty among 2,000 store associates globally.

  • 2 months ago Posted in

Scandit, a leader in smart data capture, has released a report, ‘Frontline Retail Revealed: Motivations, Technology Attitudes and Insights’, examining store associates’ perspective on the factors influencing workplace loyalty, retention and technology investment, including the potential impacts of AI.

Scandit’s global survey, across seven countries encompassing 2,000 store associates across nine retail sub-sectors, unveiled that up-to-date technology is now more than a luxury. It is a key driver in affecting worker motivation and, ultimately, a retailer’s success. However, the research uncovers a crucial gap: 40% of respondents feel that their employers don’t invest in their tech needs, with 20% actively feeling it’s a non-priority.

"The retail industry has undergone significant changes over the last few years as businesses continue to navigate the ripple effects of a post-COVID world,” said Samuel Mueller, CEO and Co-founder of Scandit. "Increased consumer pressure, operational efficiency requirements, ongoing labor shortages and the advent of AI have required retailers to rethink how they attract, retain and motivate store associates. Our research reveals workers’ concerns and how retailers can optimize technology investments to drive employee loyalty, automate tedious tasks and ultimately boost profitability."

Technology emerges as a key loyalty driver

Recruiting and retaining retail workers remains a critical challenge. The research revealed that:

Work-life balance (56%) and competitive salaries (54%) remain the top motivators for retail workers globally, but access to modern, easy-to-use technology (41%) is also a top-three driver of loyalty.

Additionally, while work-life balance, salary and tedious tasks remain significant reasons for leaving a job, understaffing and increased workload are also major concerns for many (38%). This problem is particularly prominent in specific sectors, with grocery (44%), cosmetics (41%), and DIY (41%) reporting the highest levels of concern.

Tech adoption increases, but some workers feel left behind

As technology has become a crucial component for frontline retail workers, the research revealed some interesting perspectives on device use and training:

Globally, over two-thirds of store associates rate their devices as important or very important for their job. Across all ages and sectors, the ability to multi-task (70%), access to product information (67%) and device intuitiveness (52%) are crucial capabilities in smartphone and scanning devices.

Onboarding speed and time to proficiency continues to present an issue. Over a third of workers take two weeks (34%) or up to four weeks (30%) to effectively use their devices. Gig workers learn one week faster, potentially due to bring your own device (BYOD) strategies.

Generational differences

The retail industry faces a unique challenge. Companies must cater to a diverse workforce spanning multiple generations, each with varying levels of technology skills, role expertise and perspectives - especially when it comes to AI:

Half of frontline workers are not concerned about AI and automation in terms of losing their jobs. Nearly a third (31%) of these believe it will positively impact their role, suggesting a growing understanding of its potential benefits. Those most concerned are in the middle of their careers, with 53% already worried tech will impact their role in the next few years.

Across generations, motivational factors vary, with workers under 18s prioritizing employer brand values (50%) over salary (21%), while those over 66 value salary as the dominant driver of loyalty (62%).

“The work associates do is evolving as retail becomes increasingly digital. With attitudes to AI split amongst workers, it’s essential for retailers to ensure they are communicating the ways innovations like AI or automation can augment the human, alleviating mental strain or repetitive tasks,” commented Vsevolod Boikov, Group IT Head, Apollo Group. 

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