Four ways retail brands can increase staff engagement

  • Opinion
  • March 22, 2017
  • Juanita Neville-Te Rito
Four ways retail brands can increase staff engagement

I am delighted to have Andréa van der Meel, founder of SeekStock, an engagement tool that delivers real-time product insights from the shop floor to head office, to share her valuable insights on closing the gap between the shop floor and head office through the most important assets to any retail business, your people.

Now over to Andréa...

Having worked in the fashion retail sector for 11 years, I have never really understood why frontline retail staff aren't typically held in high regard. I can tell you first hand that the work isn't ‘easy’, especially for an introvert such as myself.

Being on your feet all day, coupled with the mental exhaustion from dealing with a constant flow of people makes the retail floor extremely challenging. Not to mention the heavy administrative workload that store managers are required to balance, all by close of trade.  And if that weren’t enough, throw in a few negative comments here and there from customers that replay over and over in your head.. at 2a.m… Not always #funtimes.

But despite all of that, retail work can be incredibly rewarding. There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of guiding a male customer into a slightly slimmer-legged pant, all in the name of fashion. We may not be saving the world, but we are giving everyday people more confidence through their outfit choices. Who knows, perhaps we are giving these customers the confidence they need to save the world? I, at least, like to think so.

Although there is a side to retail that customers don’t get to see; the relationship between retail stores and their head office.

Retail staff strive to feel part of a bigger picture and share in the vision of their chosen brand. They want their contributions to be noticed, and to progress and grow as the company grows. For smaller brands with only a handful of stores, staff get the benefit of one-on-one interaction with designers and decision makers, allowing them to feel like a valued team member. But for most larger chains, staff often feel like just another number. I can speak from experience when I say I have personally felt a lack of engagement and purpose within some retail organisations.

The negative effects of poor staff engagement include poor work performance, sub-par customer service, high staff turnover, theft, increased training costs and attendance issues. It’s no surprise that these effects negatively impact retailer’s bottom lines. For brands to maximise their in store profits, they need to put in what they want to get out of their teams. Here’s a not-so-scientific graphic to help paint a picture:

So what can retailers do to ensure they maintain an ongoing, meaningful connection with their frontline employees?

1. Communicate clearly.
It’s incredibly common for retail staff to have no idea what is going on at head office. What direction is the company heading in? What new product lines are being introduced and when? Who is new to the team? Who has left the team?

More often than not, these questions don’t tend to get answered unless someone asks. There is a serious lack of preemptive, company-wide communication about important updates. To add insult to injury, when customers query something brand specific that staff haven’t been informed about, they have to embarrassingly say they don’t know the answer. A monthly, internal newsletter distributed to all stores is a quick and easy way to keep everyone up to date.

2. Have product-centric discussions, often.
Shop staff should be the first port of call for brands that are serious about understanding their stock demands. As customer bases vary slightly from store-to-store, frontline staff are best positioned to help brands identify nuances between each outlet.

Staff are generally very passionate about having the right products in their store, as it makes their jobs easier. However, current feedback methods limit their ability to communicate their store’s needs effectively. Typically,  the only feedback welcomed by head office is from managers. This frustrates me greatly, as there are plenty of non-managerial retail staff with great input that simply never sees the light of day.

Product discussions should not only be all inclusive, but they should happen more frequently. For staff to feel like an integral part of their organisation, head offices need to learn to talk with staff, not at them. There is a huge opportunity for technology to streamline such discussions and provide actionable insights for retailers to optimise their stock. These are the types of issues products like SeekStock are striving to solve.

3. Incentivise staff.
There is nothing like a bit of healthy competition between stores to really drive results. A monthly prize for the staff member with the highest units per transaction, or the tried and true “Employee of the Month” are great ways to acknowledge the efforts of your staff. Although the way to really get to your employees hearts is through cold, hard (albeit taxed) cash.

I’m personally not a fan of paying staff in store credit. It may be a cheaper alternative than giving a cash bonus, but it will likely leave a sour taste for some. Staff are aware that store credit not only goes straight back into the business, but more often than not, the amount given is conveniently never enough to cover the cost of anything. This forces staff to spend their own money just to use the credit, and this can sometimes feel more like apenalty than a reward.

The most memorable monthly prize I’ve experienced in my retail career was the chance to win a trip to Fiji. Needless to say, that month was the hardest I have ever worked, probably in my life. Unfortunately I didn’t come away with the win, but the brand certainly won with the increased productivity from staff and the boost in sales. This prize was also conveniently timed in one of the slower retail months of the year - very clever!

4. Work in store.
Nothing says “I value the work you do” like doing it too. Showing staff that you are willing to get your hands dirty and work on the shop floor from time-to-time can have enormous positive effects. Staff will welcome the chance to get insight into the minds of designers or buyers, and your head office team will get first hand feedback about what products are working or not. Some brands (usually those smaller in size) make this a priority, with higher levels of staff engagement and morale as a result.

Those on the frontline of our retail stores have so much valuable insight to offer. It’s my sincere hope that brands will make more of an effort to listen. At the end of the day, engaged staff equal happy staff, and happy staff equal happy customers. What more could a retail brand ask for?

This story originally appeared on The Retail Collective's blog.

​ ​

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.


InStyle names All Is For All’s Grace Stratton a ‘Badass Woman’

  • News
  • July 18, 2019
  • The Register team
InStyle names All Is For All’s Grace Stratton a ‘Badass Woman’

Grace Stratton, the 20-year-old founder of specialty ecommerce site All Is For All, has been named one of 50 global Badass Women by US glossy magazine InStyle. The list includes international celebrities like Mindy Kaling and businesspeople like Stitch Fix chief executive Katrina Lake.

Read more

Wellbeing in the workplace: Here's how its affecting your staff, and your bottom line

  • Opinion
  • July 18, 2019
  • Elly Strang
Wellbeing in the workplace: Here's how its affecting your staff, and your bottom line

Idealog editor Elly Strang recently spoke at the Magazine Publishers Association conference about the importance of wellbeing in the workplace, and the key takeaways from Wellness Month. She shares why it shouldn't be thought of as a luxury nice-to-have, like yoga classes, as research is showing it impacts on your bottom line, as well as some tips on how to create change in the workplace.

Read more

How HomeAR is incorporating AR into architecture design

  • technology
  • July 18, 2019
  • Courtney Devereux
How HomeAR is incorporating AR into architecture design

Many people struggle to envision plans from simple 2D renders and floor plans, as without a designer's eye, filling in blanks from imagination isn’t the most reliable method when it comes to something as important as building a brand-new home or store. Reactar has launched an augmented reality-based platform, HomeAR, to counteract this, which allows users to see and engage with homes in a virtual way, making the very personal process more reliable.

Read more

Social scoreboard

Zavy and The Register have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

Regional rollercoaster
What does retail look like in 2019 for ...
Concept to closet
Business coverage of New Zealand Fashion Week.
Town centres
A positive retail environment over the past 12 ...
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...

Simon West is the new chief executive of Torpedo7

  • Who's Where
  • July 18, 2019
Simon West is the new chief executive of Torpedo7

Simon West, who has 20 years' experience leading companies like Ezibuy, has been appointed the chief executive of The Warehouse Group's outdoor retailer Torpedo7.

Read more

Bay of Plenty D2C Saltysea opens its first store

  • Design
  • July 17, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Bay of Plenty D2C Saltysea opens its first store

Stephanie Saxton has been selling cheeky swimsuits and ethical activewear online out of Bay of Plenty's Athenree since 2018. She's now opened Saltysea's first bricks and mortar store, the Salty Collective.

Read more

What the investment community thinks Kiwi businesses lead on the world stage with

  • News
  • July 16, 2019
  • Idealog
What the investment community thinks Kiwi businesses lead on the world stage with

Every business goes through a life cycle: start-up, growth, maturity and renewal, rebirth or decline. Once you’ve made it past the juicy, creative ideation stage and into the growth and maturity stage, the time for many comes to seek investment. But what do investors look for beyond a commercial return? And what do investors think New Zealand companies excel at when compared to our neighbouring countries around the world? Executive director of the Angel Association of New Zealand Suse Reynolds shares her top tips for those who are looking for investment.

Read more
Next page
Results for
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

The Register

Content marketing/advertising? Email or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit