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Headwinds in the Retail Labor Market: Adapting to the Evolving Workloads of Omnichannel Retailing - Part 2

Today's Shoppers Are a Moving Target. Are You Prepared To Adapt to the Evolving Workloads of Omnichannel Retailing?

Current headwinds in the retail labor market present formidable challenges and hurdles for retailers in effectively managing their workforce. These challenges arise from dynamic shifts in economic landscapes, evolving consumer behaviors, and rapid technological advancements. 

In part two of this seven-part series, we will examine the challenges that have manifested in today's retail landscape from the demands of omnichannel execution.

The impact of online shopping on consumer preferences and strategies to enhance the shopping experience encompasses a wide array of options, spanning from buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) to ship from store (SFS) and various hybrid models. The demands of omnichannel execution have profoundly influenced the workload within the retail sector. How has this manifested?

  • Complexity of Retail Operations

Omnichannel strategies expand retail employee duties with online order fulfillment, in-store pickups, and cross-channel returns. The imperative for seamless integration of online and offline inventory systems heightens operational intricacies, demanding efficient coordination and communication among teams.

  • Shift in Labor Allocation

Employees now juggle diverse roles beyond traditional duties, necessitating cross-training, and adaptable job descriptions. Labor shifts from customer-facing to fulfillment and logistics to support BOPIS and SFS services. Mismanagement can impair in-store customer conversion rates, highlighting the importance of strategic workforce deployment and training.

  • Demand for Enhanced Skill Sets

Employees require enhanced digital literacy to navigate online order management systems. Customer service skills remain essential, particularly for BOPIS, Same-Day Home Delivery, and SFS interactions, which often serve as the primary in-person touchpoints in the customer journey.

  • Workforce Scheduling Challenges

Retailers grapple with predicting staff requirements amid fluctuating online order volumes and in-store pickups. Dynamic scheduling systems adjusting to trends and seasonality are vital for adapting to demand fluctuations efficiently, ensuring optimal staffing levels to meet customer needs while controlling labor costs.

  • Increased Pressure on Speed and Accuracy

Consumer demand for swift BOPIS, Same-Day Home Delivery, and SFS orders heightens pressure on retailers for efficient execution. Order accuracy is paramount to prevent customer dissatisfaction and costly returns, emphasizing the need for meticulous fulfillment processes.

  • Inventory Management

Managing inventory for online and in-store sales is increasingly complex, demanding advanced inventory management and forecasting. Retailers must synchronize stock levels to meet online demand while ensuring sufficient in-store availability, necessitating precise inventory control and forecasting strategies.

  • Enhanced Focus on Customer Experience

Retailers must prioritize seamless multi-channel experiences, necessitating enhanced training and customer engagement efforts. The effectiveness of BOPIS, Same-Day Home Delivery, and SFS services hinges on retailers' ability to meet customer expectations for convenience and service excellence.

  • Rise in Operational Costs

Implementing omnichannel services demands investments in technology, training, and infrastructure upgrades, elevating working capital deployment and operational costs. Retailers must balance these expenses with potential sales growth and customer loyalty benefits to ensure optimal return on investment. Strategic fiscal management is crucial for sustainable profitability amidst these expenditures.

  • Workplace Health and Safety Considerations

Incorporating fulfillment tasks in retail has raised health and safety concerns. Strict protocols for product handling, cleanliness, and ensuring the safety of both employees and customers are now imperative, necessitating heightened vigilance and adherence to stringent guidelines.

The challenges in today's retail landscape require retailers to adopt innovative labor management practices and invest in relevant technologies and training programs to effectively manage the evolving workloads driven by omnichannel strategies. It is crucial for retailers to continually evaluate the efficiency and customer satisfaction of In-Store, BOPIS, Same-Day Home Delivery, and SFS services to meet modern consumer expectations while retaining in-store customers.

Other articles in this series: 

Headwinds In The Retail Labor Market: 9 Critical Challenges Facing Retailers Today - Part 1

Ankura Performance Improvement Fundamentals

We have a proven record of helping companies execute strategic plans to achieve sustainable performance improvement and targeted operating results aimed at maximizing earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA), cash flow, and shareholder value.

We work side-by-side with management and other stakeholders to guide companies through periods of uncertainty and subsequently accelerate growth and value creation.

Winning companies map their workforce management strategy and initiatives against their customers’ journey to develop a customer-focused approach to align and manage labor. Ankura has the unique skills to identify and quantify benefits, as well as implement our proprietary labor planning, forecasting, and scheduling tools while facilitating implementation across all facets of workforce and field management.

Our Approach To Helping Clients Respond to Critical Workforce Demands Includes:

  • Human Capital Design – Create a human capital assets plan in accordance with the overall strategy
  • Labor Utilization - Align labor utilization to meet demand, and focus on customers to improve conversion
  • Performance Management - Apply a data-driven and talent-centric performance management approach

Our Workforce Optimization Experts:

Mike Casey
Managing Director

Eugene Kim
Senior Director

Matt Sgrignari

© Copyright 2024. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of Ankura Consulting Group, LLC., its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals. Ankura is not a law firm and cannot provide legal advice.


performance, article, f-performance, operations, retail, performance improvement

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