Store Associates Continue To Be Overlooked Despite Rising Tech Investments

As retailers continually focus more on technology to bolster their omnichannel efforts, with 87% of retailers expecting their technology costs to increase over the next two years, they are still glossing over a key component of their experience: the store associate.

More than half (58%) of retailers either have employee training programs they believe are very ineffective, or don’t have training programs at all, according to a study from A.T. Kearney.

Most of retailers’ technology investments have already been allocated to:


  • Inventory management (45% already invested, 33% investing within two years);

  • Mobile app development (42%, 30%);

  • Customer checkout (43%, 27%);

  • Labor scheduling (41%, 26%); and

  • Location awareness technology (24%, 27%).

But the majority of these technologies don’t actually help store associates do their jobs better, focusing instead on the back end or consumer-facing technology. The survey noted that 80% of shoppers say they experience poor service when directly interacting with in-store tech, making it all the more imperative for retailers to shift their focus towards these investments.

Another example of misalignment comes in how retailers handle shipping times. Although there has been greater investment in same-day, next day and even one-hour shipping among retailers, 75% of shoppers say they expect products to be shipped in two days or more. Retailers actually fulfilling their order within the promised window of time (42%) is a much greater concern among these consumers than fast shipping (21%).

The A.T. Kearney survey, titled: Rethinking Retail Operations: Achieving Excellence in Retail Operations (AERO), revealed insights from more than 100 global retail executives showing how they align store operations strategies and metrics to the new omnichannel environment and are investing heavily in providing support.

Even though retailers are making investments in technology as a whole, they still often lack the processes to measure ROI efficiently. While 52% of retailers say they have strong execution of technology, only 38% actually believe they have a strong ability to measure ROI. This means that while their heart is often in the right place, some of their tech efforts remain misguided.




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