Post-lockdown, competition for customers and staff is fierce throughout the retail sector. This places greater pressure than ever before on managers and makes agile, portable and connected technology vital for their success.
Welcome to the third in our series of blogs about the transformative power of technology in retail – a sector forever changed by COVID-19. Having explored the theme from the perspective of your customer-facing and back-office teams, we now focus on the needs of those tasked with coordinating, empowering and retaining both of these groups: retail managers.
“Rallying the troops” in a demanding new retail universe
Both customers and staff have emerged from the pandemic forever changed. Customers, for the most part, are eager to immerse themselves in the store environment once again, with 74% confessing to having missed it during lockdown.1 But months of online shopping have made them more discriminating about the speed, fluidity and connectedness of that experience, and they now expect retailers to personalise their engagement across all channels, both physical and digital.
This ramps up the pressure on an already battered workforce, 84% of whom have reported declining mental health in the last year2, a consequence of job insecurity, unpredictable shift patterns and spiralling workloads. With retailers hiring at the fastest rate for eight years3, more and more staff are considering a change of career.
By equipping frontline and back-office teams with ultra-portable devices and dynamic access to customer and stock data, while also placing self-service kiosks at customers’ disposal, retailers can “join up” the retail processes and hit the sweet-spot for all three groups. It’s precisely this ability that makes solutions like Microsoft Surface so powerful.
Empowering managers to bring it all together
Managers, of course, are especially crucial to this purpose – not least for the pivotal role they play in linking frontline, back-office and warehouse teams to ensure the crucial “last mile” is executed perfectly, and to helping teams achieve more with less.
The Microsoft Surface range also increases managers’ power to motivate people, while maximising the meaning and reward they find in their role. They can do this by equipping frontline staff to offer customers the unified, multi-channel, context-rich experience they crave, while also making back-office teams in particular feel a greater connection to the wider organisation.
How Microsoft Surface can help
Faced with an increased workload and a workforce crying out for nurture and support, retail managers need to be tech-savvy and mobile, while also encouraging the necessary tech adoption among their team. Microsoft Surface combines the following to drive productivity, link colleagues together as a team, and ensure smooth productivity across different sites and processes:
- Ultra-portable, powerful mobile devices, from laptops to tablets, specially designed for use in a fast-moving, complex, people-driven environment
- Leading Microsoft productivity apps, including M365 and Dynamics365 Commerce, with secure, enterprise-level cloud connectivity from Microsoft Azure
- Instant access to real-time data and stock information across channels, as well as customer details that allow them to make informed decisions on the spot
- Connectivity apps like Microsoft Teams allow you to create coherent, self-sufficient teams and faster feedback loops
- Easy integration with your favoured line-of-business software
The result? A more responsive and integrated retail experience for customers, regardless of channel, and a workforce that’s motivated and equipped to excel. Find out more.
1 Retail Customer Experience: UK shoppers missing the in-store retail experience
2 How can retailers prioritise mental health post-Covid?
3CIPD & Adecco, via Retail Gazette