Upward Mobility: Digital Retail Careers

The growth of online and mobile shopping requires a talent pool of employees who can ensure an easy and productive online experience.  Bryan Pearson in his Forbes article notes that as retail evolves “the most promising jobs will involve insights, not inventories.”  Digital retail jobs come under various titles but fall into three broad categories: customer experience leaders, data analysts, and software developers.  


Mary Thompson in her CNBC segment “Talk about Upwardly Mobile Jobs; Digital Retail,” quotes Niraj Shah, CEO of Wayfair. Online and omnichannel retailers “need more data scientists, merchandisers, marketers, designers,” and that “in every role, we are looking for folks to have a little bit of an analytical bent, and a little bit of a way to use data to further progress what they do.”


retail_companies.talent needs

The graphic is courtesy: The Digital Journey, by Kim Mckesson, Jerry Noonan, Anthony T. Laudico, Klaus Halsig.


In digital retailing, data and technology together are integral in all areas of the business, because, according to Shah “they help the merchant understand what is happening out there, what customers are looking at, what they want and what they prefer.” In contrast, merchandising or the promotion and presentation of goods is key in traditional retail and technology can be a separate function on its own.


In addition to typical character traits desirable to employers – hardworking bright, team-oriented or collaborative, potential employees must have “the ability to use analytical insights or quantitative data.” Sucharita Mulpuru, a retail analyst at Forrester Research, notes that “growth rates for the jobs that are open in this industry are extremely high. It’s somewhere between 20 and 50 percent.” Most retailers have little choice but to pay higher wages if they want to stay competitive.


Posted in Career Useful Information, Careers in Retailing, Web, Nonstore-Based, and Other Forms of Nontraditional Retailing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Retail Job on Resume Pay Dividends in Other Sectors

On September 28, we reported on 2018 Universum Survey of Top Global Employers for Business Students. The retail industry is the largest non-government employer in the U.S. supporting 42 million jobs and is often the first employment opportunity for many Americans. As college students start their new school year in a booming economy with a tight labor market, knowing that a retail career on their resume is valued by hiring managers across industry sectors can be helpful to those considering in internships or full-time positions  in retail as well as reassuring that it will help and not limit their ability to transition to other sectors in the future.

A National Retail Federation commissioned study “Retail’s Value on a Resume: How Jobs in Retail Prepare America’s Workforce for Success,” by market research firm GfK shows that 80% of hiring managers across industries value the foundational job skills that a retail job experience instills in its employees. They also believe that those skills are transferable to jobs and careers in other sectors. For students considering careers or jobs in retail, the NRF Foundation provides an interactive toolkit “Retail as a Career” to identify various opportunities in retail.

As technology permeates across retail functional areas and organizations themselves, many retailers are launching technology and digital innovation initiatives to stay competitive like Target’s Tech Incubator, Walmart Labs, and Canadian Tire’s Digital Innovation centers in the Americas and around the world. Sam Berndt at NRF reports that computer-science graduates are in demand in retail and offer a good balance compared to the Silicon Valley rush. Compensation is competitive, they can be located in small and large communities with low cost of living, have interesting projects like developing innovative technological applications in AI and autonomous vehicles.

Adapted from: Berndt, Sam (2018), “4 reasons computer science grads should be looking for jobs in retail,” in Retail as a Career, NRF Foundation.

Posted in Career Useful Information, Career Video Clips, Careers in Retailing, Technology in Retailing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Retail Sales is on the Upswing, Then Why are the Malls Dying?

Monthly statistics from the US Census show that U.S. retail sales are consistently growing at a modest rate, yet shopping mall vacancies and closures are the highest in the last seven years (WSJ 2018). Experts blame the downturn in shopping malls on e-commerce, but online sales account for only 10% of US retail sales – the remaining 90% occur in brick-and-mortar stores. Yet, another conjecture blames ‘shopper boredom,’  but that runs counter to the popularity of open-air, lifestyle centers. 

In a guest column on RetailOperationsInsights.com, Profs. Rosenbaum, Ramirez, and El-Manstrly propose and test another hypothesis – shopper concern for personal security in enclosed malls. Videos of people in dangerous situations, trapped in enclosed spaces – malls, airports, movie theaters, are frequently on news broadcasts, trending on internet websites and social media – have a chilling effect. leading to shopper’s avoidance of enclosed shopping malls.

They tested their hypothesis empirically, with groups of 150 shoppers watching three short videos of a typical mall journey, one without any shoppers present, second with few shoppers and third with many shoppers. Neural activity of 450 shoppers was measured using the EMOTIV Epoc+ 14 Channel Mobile EEG device on six cognitive metrics – engagement, excitement, focus, interest, relaxation, and stress.

Their results show that shopped viewing a shopping experience with many people present lead to increased stress, lower excitement, decreased focus which induces place avoidance. What can mall owners and their retail clients do to address this issue? Can use of color, open spaces, glass ceilings/domes in enclosed malls attenuate the fear consumers experience? What role do security symbols (prominent signs of alternate/multiple exits, bag checks at entrances) and third-party certification play in lowering anxiety associated with a mall visit?

This post is an adaptation of RetailOperationsInsights.com Guest Column, “The Politically Incorrect Reason to Explain the Death of Enclosed Malls: It’s The People,” October 1, 2018.

Posted in Part 2: Ownership, Strategy Mix, Online, Nontraditional, Part 3: Targeting Customers and Gathering Information, Part 4: Store Location Planning, Part 5: Managing a Retail Business, Privacy and Identity Theft Issues, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment