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Employees: the Competitive Edge A tight job market — and the high cost of turnover — means that effective and experienced employees are more valuable than ever. STORES magazine examined some trends that retailers are putting into play to attract and retain a good staff. And while many of the practices are used primarily by larger retail chains, their focus can work for smaller retailers as well. One example: technology. Retailers value employees who can learn and use technology quickly and efficiently, whether it’s used in customer interactions such as checkout and inventory checking or filling online orders for in-store pickup. Many larger retailers are also using technology to hire and train new workers and schedule work shifts. Retailers are also paying closer attention to customer experience, since it’s a clear advantage that brick-and-mortar stores have over online shopping. Employees become ambassadors for the store, and the best ones engage with customers, offer solutions for their purchasing needs, and provide service that will bring them back. These are individuals, said one consultant, “who’ve picked a retailing job because they like what they’re doing.”

Payments: Paper or Plastic?

While the number of cashless retailers has been on the rise in recent years, don’t count on small businesses giving up on cash anytime soon. Mobile payment company Square released a study earlier this year examining the current state of digital payments and found that 83% of the 1,000 business owners surveyed said they’ll never stop accepting cash at their business. Customer preference was important; two out of three owners said that their customers would react negatively if the business went cashless, while others noted that such a practice would exclude customers who didn’t have bank or charge accounts. This doesn’t mean there haven’t been noticeable changes in customer behavior, though. The study, “Making Change,” noted that consumers have been using cards for increasingly smaller purchases; in 2015 half of consumers used a card for an $8 transaction, while this year, the transaction size dropped to $4.50. Top states for card use: California, Washington, Utah, Colorado, and Virginia; top states for cash were Iowa, Wisconsin, Hawaii, West Virginia, and Delaware.

“[Give] generously to your employees so that they can give generously to your customers. Satisfaction is a transfer of energy. Keep your employees satisfied, and they, in turn, will keep your customers satisfied.” —THALIA TOHA, BRAND AND BUSINESS STRATEGIST, “STAR TREATMENT: CUSTOMER SERVICE LESSONS FROM LUXURY BRANDS,” ON BUSINESSNEWSDAILY.COM.  41

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Smart Retailer August/September 2019  

Smart Retailer August/September 2019