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The Role of HR in the Retail Industry

  • Blog
  • 13 February 2020

The Retail Industry

The retailing industry is a vital commercial sector. It provides customers with an opportunity to purchase goods and services from various types of merchants. The retail industry comprises of the various places where the consumers can buy goods and services, such as supermarkets, department stores, specialty stores, chain stores, franchise stores, online merchants and door-to-door services. Retailers buy the goods from wholesalers, middle-men or the producer itself in large quantities and resells them to households or individual consumers.

Functions within Retail

The retail sector today is a complex field with many functions. Not only does it involve the buying and selling of all types of goods and services, such as automobiles to ironing services, but also it involves the various functions to operate a retail firm. The main activities of retailing may be divided into five categories: merchandising and buying, store operations, promotions, and advertising, bookkeeping and accounting, and personnel.

Merchandising and buying determines the arrangement and amount of merchandise being sold, displayed, or stocked in a store. Store operations workers maintain the store. Sales promotion and advertising work to inform customers and potential customers about the available goods, services and promotions and spread this information to the greatest number of people. Bookkeeping and accounting workers keep records of money spent and received, as well as records of salaries, bills, taxes, and money due from customers. The personnel department provides the store with qualified employees.

The role of HR within the Retail Industry

This overview of the complexity of the retail business is enough to judge the need for a strong HR department in retail businesses. In this era of technology, the retail industry has experienced major changes in the way they carry out their normal operations. The functioning of HR too like all other functions has changed. From cloud data management to apps developed for employees. The way retailers use technology to do business is changing, and that change starts with employees. When used smartly, better HR tech leads to better work culture, increased retention rates, and improved efficiency.

The majority of workers at retail businesses belong to a diverse array of places. Each different place having its own culture, own language, and own values. When you visit a supermarket and notice the different employees from the attendants to the cashiers. You will notice that in most places all of those employees speak a different language. More than 50% of restaurant workers in the USA are Spanish speakers. These stats are not just limited to the restaurant businesses but the majority of retail firms around the world. In order to foster transparent and consistent communication between HR departments and all employees, companies have deployed multilingual communication tools.

For example, when the manager of a store delivers a speech in English to the employees about boosting their sales and their targets for the next month, an employee with a weak grasp of English would feel detached and aloof of what is happening around him. All workers will work towards meeting the goals that were told, those employees who didn’t feel as much inspired during the speech won’t be able to deliver their best. On the other hand, if the manager had used a way to address all the employees in the languages they understood the best, there would’ve been a more fruitful response.

Using respective languages for respective employees also eliminates the chances of mistakes and misunderstandings. HR teams can send messages, documents, and notices all in each employee’s native language, eliminating misunderstandings and showing employees that the company cares about their experience at work.

HR Goals

One goal of retail businesses is to minimise their expenses and maximise profit. As we all know, in large size oranisations, the money spent on buying paper to carry out all the documentation and paperwork is a sizeable amount. Paperless HR is a new trend in the retail industry. Traditional HR departments are filled with filing cabinets for endless amounts of paper. Now, thanks to new technology, HR teams can be completely paperless. This allows companies not to worry about where files are. Cloud data management and employee apps are a very useful way to manage HR work. HR teams are increasingly using Gamification, in workplaces to encourage employees and inculcate competition. For instance, employees can keep a record of their sales and the number of hours they work. They then achieve milestones, bonuses and maintain an overall sense of achievement.

A Circular Industry

The retail industry is one industry where your employees can also be your customers. Well, all employees are humans and all humans have families and homes. All homes need food, clothing and all the other things needed for life. It would be surprising to see a person who works at a departmental store buying their groceries from another store. The reason behind that is HR encourages the employees of a company to buy their products from their own stores. They do this by giving incentives. Typically, employees are given employee discounts and promotions.

It is common in large stores that a few products in a large batch get damaged. For example, a bag of food getting accidentally torn or a fridge getting dented. These types of damages make the product ineligible to be sold to customers and the store has to keep it. Employees are given the opportunity to buy those goods at very cheap rates. A win-win situation for both the employee and the business.

Read about the role of HR in the Engineering, Automotive, Finance or Media industries.

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