What prospects for the retail sector?

Quali prospettive per il settore retail?

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Dear readers

We come back to you after an intense summer of relationships and contacts with various customers and retail professionals. Whether for business reasons, or to share and discuss the novelties in the activities that companies are putting in place, or to understand just what are the real changes that this pandemic has brought in our industry. This comparison is useful for us to have a point of view that is always current and directly related to the reality of work and business.

As we can all imagine, it is quite clear that probably the biggest change caused by the pandemic situation was in people: such an impactful event can only have altered or in some cases sharpened some aspects of the person.

Without going into too much psychological aspects, but certainly, both for direct experience, both for comparison with professionals in the sector, we saw that the staff in contact with the public had the need to change their approach to work, the way you relate to your customers, the flexibility… and all in a climate of uncertainty as to what the future would hold.

What prospects for the retail sector?

So we decided to bring you a couple of direct experiences of professionals who daily deal with Human Resources, both from the point of view of the company, both as a recruitment agency, in order to have a complete overview and an overall idea of what companies are looking for today, but also the way the staff has changed and is changing.

We introduce Matteo Naldi, Marketing Director of Lavoropiù, to whom we have asked the following questions:

What are the biggest demands of your retail customers and the biggest difficulties in your work in 2021 and what will be in 2022?

The demand for personnel is mainly concentrated around the sales process. It is to this activity that we must look to find the highest number of requests from our client companies. Especially in fashion retail, thanks to the work of the specialist division Fashionpiù, we have numerous open positions: premium clothing, luxury, kids, eyewear. The specializations and the level of experience required change, but that of the Sales Assistant remains among the most sought after professionals in this sector. Rather than being difficult, I would speak of the need to study current trends.

Matteo Naldi Marketing Director of Lavoropiù
Matteo Naldi – Lavoropiù Marketing Director

Our challenge, as an employment agency, is to be able to anticipate change, using our knowledge of the market to introduce new HR solutions that can meet the needs of companies. The experience of the store, for example, is becoming increasingly hybrid. A real harmony between online and offline is possible, not only for big players… Many companies have understood this for a long time and witness the growing demand for staff related to e-commerce: figures involved in picking, back office, IT profiles.

What are the demands of companies regarding the role of a seller and a store manager?

Knowledge of the main retail Kpis, cash management and experience in assisted sales. Then, of course, there are many aspects that vary considerably with respect to seniority and the specialization sought.

What are the services you offer to companies in the retail sector?

Lavoropiù is an agency for young work, but in over twenty years has already gained an important experience, which allows it to interact with its customers through a consulting approach, able to cover all processes related to human resources. The retail companies that turn to Lavoropiù make use of the service of search and selection of candidates, or of that of the administration of fixed-term work. The choice depends a lot on the characteristics of the resource to insert. Recently, we have further enhanced the training proposal for our candidates. Training is a fundamental tool with which we want to encourage the match between supply and demand, urging the development of a decisive element: skills.

How does the selection of shop staff

Lavoropiù has a database shared nationally by all our branches and operating locations in the area, continuously updated with database refreshing activities. In addition, we are present on all the main portals dedicated to job search. After the interview, which can take place in the presence or at a distance, our experts create a profile of the resource, in which they focus not only on the coherence with respect to the job description, but also on a series of less tangible elements that, However, they really make the difference in the medium and long term: interest and sharing of corporate values, attitudes, motivation. Only after having analyzed these aspects in depth, we organize the interview with the company representative, who will then give us the final feedback.

What training activities do you provide for your members looking for a job in the retail sector?

In the last year we have organized two types of professional courses: one dedicated to the figure of the Sales Assistant, the other to that of the Store Manager. In these training experiences, conducted in most cases by our own team of recruiters, we try to bring practical contents to the participants, which have a concrete impact on their professional path. Space, therefore, for technical content, but we also focus a lot on the issue of job orientation, with the aim of putting candidates in the best conditions to enter the job market in an effective and lasting manner.

As anticipated, the changes are and always concern some features that the staff in the store must possess, such as flexibility and problem solving.

These aspects can already be characteristics that candidates possess but can also be acquired through targeted and practical training courses.

We at XT have in fact developed courses, both in presence and online, aimed at acquiring this type of features through a pragmatic and experiential experience.

The next testimony is from one of our historical clients, Bep’s, through its HR manager, Alessia Norbiato:

What are the biggest difficulties for an HR manager in 2021 and what will be in 2022?

By far the search for staff has become the most difficult mission, because the problem of recent years and in particular in the last six months is in fact given by the applications of people with little experience and extremely pretentious. In general, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find people who want to work at weekends, or candidates feel they deserve higher salaries but without bringing any experience in the required field.

Alessia Norbiato – Bep’s HR Manager

We see this in the company not only for the retail part but also as roles in the home. In addition, I add that in summer it is particularly difficult to find staff, because no one applies and no one wants to start an activity during the holiday period.

 What are the company’s demands regarding the role of a seller and a store manager?

As for the store manager I would say problem solving and mental elasticity. The fundamental aspect that concerns the sales representative is that ours is a technical product that needs training, so the staff we are looking for must then be trained, so our intention is to have a long-term staff, with the aim of making it grow in the company. Surely the profile we are looking for as a sales representative must have communication skills, ability to work in a team but above all reliability.

What are the training priorities for your shop staff?

Our training priorities, as mentioned above, are mainly technical specifications on products. Immediately after, of course, we try to train the new staff on the procedures of the point of sale and sales techniques.

What is the turnover percentage of your store staff?

In the last period I would say around a 30%, in general every quarter we make a report on the reasons for dismissals (at the moment the main motivation is the work on Sunday…)

What are your employees’ demands for training?

For their part, a technical product training is initially required, precisely because, as anticipated, this becomes a fundamental sales tool for them.
However, we have a shared platform with all points of sale in which each product is described with its own data sheet and links with the sites of suppliers. In addition, for certain types of specific products, companies send a representative to train on technical characteristics. As for their training, our most dedicated salesmen also ask us for new methods or techniques to implement their ability to sell, and store managers are interested in some more managerial courses on point-of-sale management. On these last aspects we believe that the training should not be exclusively internal to the company, but also carried out by external professionals, with a broader vision of the retail sector.

How do you see the evolution of retail in 2022?

I remain of the idea that the physical retail will always remain strong especially if it will manage to have an interesting product with good sellers who are able to understand the need of the customer and advise the purchase. The experience of buying with a real sales consultant in my opinion remains irreplaceable.  Even as a customer I am very conditioned by how the staff of a store behaves that often, in my case, becomes the needle of the scale that leads me to make a purchase.

After this comparison the reflection we immediately make is that of a working reality, at least in Italy, particularly complex.

The approach to work in Retail is still conditioned by the idea that the role of the seller is a fallback, a temporary work that does not involve a particular professionalism.

Many companies are looking for exactly the opposite, so in this case demand hardly meets supply.

So what could be the solution?

We at XT contribute in part with our professional training to adolescents of CIOFS Emilia Romagna, and with vocational guidance lessons for both middle and high schools.

The goal is to provide tools to the kids to extricate themselves in a maze of new professionalism, and to understand how Retail can be one of the many professional paths, interesting and challenging, to follow.

Simona Fiore Architect – XT srl

by AN shopfitting magazine no.165 ©