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5 skills for the retail career of the future

by Jordana Jacklin

retail career of the future

Employing more than 1.2 million people, Australia’s retail industry is well regarded for teaching critical interpersonal and business skills - teamwork, communication and customer service - to young people as they begin their working lives.

Unfortunately, at senior executive level, dedicated retail career progression and personal development that is adequately aligned with future trends and business innovation, can often come second place to traditional retail best practice.

“For senior leadership roles, it all comes down to background and experience. We are seeing more businesses support further education and partnering with employees to help pay or assist with the education piece, however this is more a personal goal than a business decision” - Jordana Jacklin, Executive Consultant, Six Degrees Executive.

Of course, outstanding service attributes are essential in any customer facing job, but making the move into and through retail operations, category management, consumer insights, digital e-commerce or area management roles, requires you to have the answers to and ability to resolve critical challenges facing retail.

New customer connections

1. Mobile technology expertise

Smartphone technology - mobile apps, social media, click-to-buy, shopping apps, virtual reality, in-store push notifications, and more - is here to stay. In fact, more than ever, these innovations are raising consumers expectation and influencing the ways customers are shopping and purchasing products.

How close are you to your company or brand’s mobile strategy? Can your offline, in-store knowledge help engage new and existing customers via mobile putting you and your team ahead of the competition?

With more than 2.2 million apps in the app store alone, customers are certainly shopping around to find the retailer that delivers the best shopping experience for them. Understanding this space has huge potential for you and your business.

2. Brand architecture knowledge

It’s likely your business has either adopted a complete end-to-end sales experience or it still focusing on a single in-store or online strategy. While there is debate around the globe on the future of omni-channel marketing; without doubt the importance of knowing how to seamlessly combine your store’s online and traditional offline shopping experiences, right now for customers is a must!

Upskilling to think like a ‘Brand Architect’ or joining a working group who have the ability to outline your customer’s shopping experiences, be that online, in store, virtually, via mobile to name just a few, is a sure fire way to identify blockages and enhance the quality of your interaction with existing and future customers.

Knowledge to drive your decisions

3. Data Analytics

It may sound daunting the thought of advancing your retail career through data. But, just like you’ve come to know “great sales” from “average sales” simply by cashing off at the end of the day, understanding your website/social media/e-commerce data can powerfully inform all your future business decisions. There are loads of free built-in analytics tools you can use in social, e-commerce, marketing programs to find quick and useful consumer insights for your business. Use video tutorials to dig deeper or even make time to do the online learning modules to become really informed about your customers’ shopping preferences.

4. Behavioural Finance

Building on the idea of ‘preferences’, behavioural finance is a relatively new concept that combines human psychology with economic theory to help understand financial decision making. If you have the drive and motivation to go back to school, this specialised field has the potential to supercharge your company’s profits if you can understand the factors that motivate consumer to buy or not to buy. Its unlikely your company will currently offer development programs in this space, but why not ask if they will support a self-directed learning initiative?

Opportunity Cost

5. Financial and Operational skills

Good product knowledge and years of dedicated service will only get you so far in the highly competitive retail job market. Talent from other industries bring essential sales oriented, financial and operational skills to the table that demonstrate broader understanding of the complete business environment, including the impact of customer experience on profits.

“If you can prove your capability in either Area Manager or District Manager roles, you have the ability to step up to a regional or state role and finally a national management role. These senior roles have a great split of both leadership and operations scope” - Carolyn Heyward, Executive Consultant, Six Degrees Executive.

Don’t sell yourself short. You’re a seasoned retail executive. Start thinking ahead by identifying the knowledge gaps or opportunities that will help expand your retail career and provide you with deep product expertise.

For more specialist retail career advice, get in touch with Carolyn Heyward on 03 8613 3505