The stress and strain of a global pandemic has had a seismic impact on UK retail. Some retailers remained closed, suffering potentially huge losses. Those who stayed open through lockdown dealt with record footfall and unmanageable eCommerce sales.
Throughout this time, demand for household items and safer customer experiences continued to rise. Retail colleagues were caught in the middle.
2.9 million people work in the retail industry, making it our largest private-sector employer. Yet these frontline workers face unpleasant challenges. Our research into the daily experience of UK retail workers has revealed a number of surprising trends.
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85% of retail colleagues suffer challenges with communication technology
Providing a good customer experience is a challenge during these times. This problem is exacerbated by poor communication and poor organisation in store.
Colleagues want to feel safe during their shift. Over a third of our respondents (36%) admitted to daily connectivity issues, and 35% said there weren’t enough devices for all colleagues. Almost half of the colleagues (47%) said they would be more productive if they were able to communicate more effectively with other colleagues.
During times of stress, it’s understandable that colleagues want to be able to communicate easily. Colleagues are dealing with a number of new stressors, including queuing customers outside, limiting customer behaviour in-store and keeping colleagues exposure to a minimum. All these changes require flexibility and quick-thinking from every team member. It’s saddening to see that communication technology isn’t being provided to help colleagues through this.
Retail colleagues want to improve customer service. In fact, 39% of the people we spoke to said this was their biggest challenge at work. But answering customer questions is tough, so tough that 43% of our respondents said they’d occasionally given customers inaccurate information just to provide an answer. This is another issue that better team communication could improve.
The biggest cause of colleague inefficiency? Surprisingly, over a quarter of retail colleagues felt that finding information was the biggest time-waster at work. 45% also said that multiple customers requiring attention at the same time was a huge concern.
Being a retail colleague is getting harder, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. At VoCoVo, we’re trying to better understand the challenges our clients face. We believe better communication can improve or alleviate a lot of these worries.