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The biggest challenges facing the retail industry today is the explosion of new technologies, changing shopping habits, and the threat of disruptive competitors.

The all empowering presence of digital technologies in retail in general and in customer purchase lifecycle in particular, is beyond question. Retailers often see consumers use mobile devices to find inspiration from their favorite blogger, check out prices on online brands store or competition and ask a friend for recommendations while still at the store.

The explosion of retail technologies and their potential applications is a real challenge for retail companies. Ever evolving payment options, ERP, integrated POS and Cybersecurity related tech considerations mean that depends on technology in retail industry is growing and becoming increasingly complex, something that tradition brick and mortar companies need to adapt to quickly.

The growth of mobile and e-commerce ventures has meant that consumers increasingly want a consistent and seamless shopping experience from one channel to the next. On the flip side, retailers need to manage inventory in real time for business profit— something that only few have fully mastered yet.

The retail industry is infamous for having high employee turnover. This issue gets magnified when you consider that it is these employees who interact directly with customers every time they walk into a store. In other words, customer experience is directly related to employing and retaining the right talent as it is difficult to build customer loyalty if customers keep seeing a new face every time they enter a store. The retail industry can address these problems by recruiting the right people and building a rapport with employees. But this is easier said than done.

Additionally, the retail industry experiences surge in manpower demand during peak buying or holiday seasons. Not having a structured plan to integrate temporary workers during these seasonal peak periods will mean cost of manpower acquisition goes north and worse temporary workers that join might not have the right training to best serve customers or get well integrated to work cohesively with regular staff.

Reskilling as an ongoing process not only helps in employee retention, growth planning but also in attracting newer talent in the organization. But rather than treat this as a sporadic activity driven out of necessity, HR and store front managers in the retail industry need to look at enhancing employee learning and knowledge as a strategic function to engage and manage their storefront workforce.