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Headwinds in the Retail Labor Market: The Role of Technology Advancements and Shifting Consumer Expectations - Part 3

How is the omnichannel shift reshaping retail with technology and changing consumer expectations?

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. 

The omnichannel shift has fundamentally transformed the retail landscape. In part three of this seven-part series, we examine how retailers can meet the omnichannel demand through technology and consumer insights.

The omnichannel shift in consumer purchasing is propelling technological adaptation, empowering retailers to meet consumer expectations of a seamless, integrated shopping experience across various channels. This includes brick-and-mortar stores, online websites, mobile apps, social media platforms, and other digital touchpoints. Let us explore the key drivers and enablers of this shift and their impacts on retailer strategies and operational execution.

Convenience and Flexibility

Retailers must meet consumers’ need for flexible shopping options across channels and seamless transitions among the various channels. Consistency is expected in researching online, buying via mobile, or picking up in-store.


Retailers must leverage data analytics and customer relationship management (CRM) to customize the shopping journey, fostering greater engagement and loyalty from individual customers. Shoppers anticipate personalized interactions and recommendations, reflecting their preferences and purchase history across all channels. 

Integration of Online and Offline Channels

The line between physical and digital shopping has blurred, offering virtual try-ons, augmented reality, and interactive in-store displays. Consumers research online before buying in-store, or vice versa, expecting real-time inventory and price consistency.

Multiple Fulfillment Options

The surge of buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS), curbside pickup, ship from store (SFS), and same-day delivery meets diverse fulfillment needs. Consumers value the speed and convenience, heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unified Customer Service

Consumers demand seamless service across all retailer channels - in-store, chat, call center, or social media. Retailers must invest in comprehensive customer service data platforms for a holistic view of interactions.

Ease of Returns and Exchanges

A hassle-free return process, online to in-store or via user-friendly online systems, is vital for omnichannel satisfaction. Retailers must streamline returns to boost satisfaction and loyalty while managing costs.

Mobile Shopping Growth

Smartphone proliferation fuels mobile shopping, with consumers comparing, reviewing, and purchasing on the go. Retailers should optimize websites and apps, and integrate mobile payments to capitalize on this trend.

Social Commerce

Social media platforms evolve into shopping channels, enabling direct purchases from posts and ads. Influencer marketing and shoppable content on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest significantly influence buying decisions.

Consistent Branding and Messaging

Consistency in branding, messaging, and values fosters trust and a unified brand image. Consumers expect consistent service quality, product offerings, and promotions across online and in-store channels.

The omnichannel shift has fundamentally transformed the retail landscape, with consumers expecting a frictionless and integrated shopping journey. Retailers who successfully adapt to this shift are likely to see increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, and sales, while those who fail to embrace omnichannel strategies risk falling behind in what is now a highly competitive market.

Other articles in this series: 

  1. Headwinds In The Retail Labor Market: 9 Critical Challenges Facing Retailers Today - Part 1
  2. Headwinds In The Retail Labor Market: Adapting to the Evolving Workloads of Omni-Channel Retailing - Part 2

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 human capital assets plan in accordance with an 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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