HOW TO RECRUIT AND BUILD AN OMNICHANNEL DREAM TEAM

BY Matt Burton   |  

The retail industry is in a state of flux. While certain traditional bricks-and-mortar brands face ongoing strife, digitally-savvy new kids on the block are some of the biggest business success stories of recent years.

But, online retail is old news now. Having a slick eCommerce offering is still a key part of the retail equation, but the picture has become more complex by the rise of things like responsive mobile devices, IoT, and augmented and virtual reality.

Omnichannel unlocks opportunities for revenue growth and brand awareness, but the intricacies of delivering it across the entire business requires a new approach to talent acquisition to ensure you have the right skills to implement change. In this whitepaper, we provide some guidance on the benefits of Omnichannel for your business and how you can build the ultimate dream team.

WHAT IS OMNICHANNEL RETAIL?

Particularly when it comes to more recent generational cohorts, there is a certain amount of flexibility around definitions and boundaries. When, exactly, did baby boomers turn into Generation X? Or Generation Y become Generation Z? The point is not to dwell on a concrete boundary, but to consider the broad qualities that differentiate these different groups.

Omnichannel retail is all about linking up physical, online and mobile retail channels, as well as marketing outlets such as social media, in order to create a single seamless yet multi-faceted retail experience. Consider a shopper walking into a physical store. An alert pops up on the retail app on their smartphone, advising them of the latest in-store special offers. When they select certain items, the same app shows them similar or complementary items they can also purchase, either in-store or directly via the app. Once they get home, new purchases in hand, they can visit the online store on their desktop for after-sales information and offers and ideas for further purchases.

Omnichannel retail also has significant behind-the-scenes, back-office aspects. It allows customers to buy items online which are then shipped directly to stores, or place orders in physical stores which will then be delivered to their homes. It allows customers to bring unwanted online purchases to physical stores for refunds or replacements.

When it works well, omnichannel retail truly puts the customer first, enabling them to engage with the retailer in a truly joined-up fashion, in a time and place that best suits them. It enables more targeted and bespoke marketing on the part of the retailer and presents myriad new opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling.

However, all this convenience and potential comes at a cost. An effective omnichannel strategy requires a wide range of specialist skills and experience; to design it, to implement it, to analyse it and to manage and optimise it on an ongoing basis. How can you find those skills and experiences, and how can you develop them into an effective ongoing team?

WHAT DOES THE DREAM TEAM LOOK LIKE?

The key point to bear in mind when building an omnichannel team is that you will need a team, not an individual. The clue is in the name – omnichannel simply means all channels. It is impossible for one individual to have the requisite expertise across every channel, physical and virtual, that you need to bring together in an effective strategy.

The individual skills and experiences required will vary according to the shape of your overall omnichannel strategy. However, they are likely to include:

- A range of different marketing disciplines, both digital and offline.

- The eCommerce and development capabilities designed to run online stores effectively.

- Mobile and app developers.

- Social media specialists.

- Visual merchandisers.

- Specialists in fields such as augmented reality or artificial intelligence.

So, from the outset, you need to be thinking in terms of a team effort. Of course, this can make the whole challenge seem overwhelming, particularly for smaller retailers, but it doesn’t need to be.

For a start, in today’s era of flexible working and portfolio careers, it is easier than ever before to create agile teams comprising, in part, of contract, temporary or part-time workers, which can be scaled up and down according to the projects you are working on. Interim contingency recruitment, designed to help organisations deal with the peaks in workload that occur around development or launch events, is now a well-established specialism, while online platforms for managing timesheets and invoicing have made managing such workforces far slicker. Smaller retailers, then, may be best-placed to build an omnichannel team consisting at least in part of temporary staff.

Larger retailers may prefer to employ all the specialist skills needed for an omnichannel strategy on a permanent basis, yet still be able to take on temporary employees during periods of peak demand or especially large-scale projects.

SHARED VISION, SHARED WORKLOAD

Managing temporary or contract staff requires not only an efficient interim recruitment process, but also a clear internal management structure and culture. You may not be employing all members of your omnichannel team on a permanent basis, but the leadership of that team does need to have long-term vision and control. After all, the key feature of omnichannel as opposed to multichannel retail is that seamless integration between those multiple channels.

As such, someone needs to take responsibility for a single overall vision. That individual could come from a number of different specialist fields – they might have a technical background, or broader marketing or merchandising expertise – but regardless they need to be able to communicate a shared vision across all strands of the omnichannel approach.

By the same token, it is essential for omnichannel retail teams to be able to collaborate and share information with ease, which means that building an omnichannel dream team may also involve a certain amount of technology procurement. Team working tools and platforms are becoming an increasingly significant part of all businesses productivity suites, but should be a particular priority for retailers looking to create an effective omnichannel strategy. Collaboration software is not just essential within the omnichannel team itself, but also to connect that team with the myriad other parts of the business which ‘touch’ the omnichannel strategy, such as product development and logistics.

THE RECRUITMENT PROCESS

Nevertheless, understanding that your omnichannel team requires a spread of skills and expertise, solid leadership, and probably the flexibility and agility to scale up and down is one thing. How do you actually go about attracting, recruiting and retaining that team?

Attracting the right talent to your organisation depends on creating positive candidate awareness; that is, taking a holistic approach to positioning yourself as an employer of choice. Whilst remuneration and benefits will always be key factors in attracting the best talent to your organisation, millennials, who are becoming an ever-greater proportion of the retail workforce, typically take a broader approach when assessing workplaces. Factors such as work-life balance, ongoing career development and training, and the ability to make a positive difference through elements like volunteering are more important now than ever before, and retailers wanting to create the best omnichannel team possible need to create and emphasise those qualities in order to attract the best talent.

Recruitment itself is, of course, a multifaceted process, spanning initial advertising, filtering and assessments, and making and securing offers. Because omnichannel teams cover such a broad range of specialisms, retailers need to ensure they have the capability to define, describe and assess each individual role accurately, which can be a challenge depending on which skills are already available in-house. Working with a third party recruitment partner can be an effective tactic in ensuring that appropriate skills and experiences are required for each role, and adverts are not accidentally speaking only to very elusive candidates.

Once individuals have actually joined the omnichannel team, whether on a permanent or a contract basis, it is still essential for the retailer in question to focus on their quality of experience. In the case of permanent hires, this creates team longevity and can help new hires develop into leaders of the future; in the case of contract hires, this helps the team to gel more quickly and helps to build a ‘bank’ of reliable and satisfied temporary staff who can be drawn on for future projects. Retention, then, depends on both the holistic approach to benefits and culture mentioned above, and a clear focus on the trajectory of each individual within the organisation, no matter how long their contract actually is. 

YOUR OMNICHANNEL DREAM TEAM

Omnichannel strategies are key for today’s retailers to remain competitive and innovative in a hugely competitive environment. Building an omnichannel dream team requires a highly flexible approach; a wide spread of skills and experiences, and the ability to scale that team up and down according to demand. In such a dynamic environment, then, clear leadership and a seamless recruitment and retention strategy are absolutely crucial. 

BACK TO NEWS Go to Next Blog