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The future of the retail workforce

July 20, 2020

About 70 years ago, we started using automobiles to get that bottle of milk and then,15 years ago, we started ordering the milk on our computers and mobiles. Today, our refrigerator can do it for us. Milk itself is not changing, but how it reaches our homes and the overall customer experience have changed greatly. The shopping experience will transform more in the next 10 years than it has in the past 200 years. Enterprise and retail workforces need to reinvent and adapt to stay relevant.

Old vs new

The future of retail will not be online only. It will be a convergence of online and offline. The diagram below depicts the changes in the old and new ways of working in a typical retail outlet:

Retailers have to be great at fast innovation, leveraging data to delight customers and reduce costs while increasing their scale or operations. With IoT, augmented reality, and data analytics coupled with 5G, we introduce a whole new dimension to the retail experience. Enterprises should collaborate with other industry partners to create a larger ecosystem and make changes in existing processes.

Experience is everything. Where once a customer simply wanted a product, today she also expects a fantastic experience. Retailers are leveraging the available technology and creating that experience for customers to ensure that they keep coming back, hopefully with their friends and family in tow. Technology has put more power in the hands of the customer. Retailers are becoming more apt to engage with their employees to improve the customer experience. Digital transformation is not about IT or technology, it’s about redefining the entire business strategy and changing corporate culture.

Digital disruption is both a threat and an opportunity

The diagram below depicts the employment trend with regard to various job profiles in the retail sector. With digitalization in retail, we will see a reduction in store coordinator and backoffice profiles. These roles will be taken up by the augmented displays and virtual assistants, along with IoT and automation. At the same time, there will be an increase in the number of roles managing these virtual and automation platforms. There will also be an increase in the number of senior roles for roadmap and strategy creation.

Threatened jobs include inventory associate, sales representative, and stock boy. The immediate impact will be felt in warehouse and stock management.

The potential new roles that will open up in the retail industry are retail data analyst, digital imaging lead, IT process designer, digital marketing specialist, and customer experience lead.

Anyone who is ready to learn and develop skills that fit the requirements of new ways of working will always be relevant in the changing world.

The diagram below depicts the growing trend of automation in different phases of the retail operations lifecycle. We see digitization and automation adoption impacting each lifecycle phase by aligning inventory with customer demands, ensuring an optimum supply chain, reducing purchase turnaround time, enabling seamless payments, and providing a frictionless, premium and convenient shopping experience.

Managing this new age of the digital ecosystem means shaping entire markets rather than individual organizations. Each organization will determine its own future and that is an opportunity that no company will want to miss.

Organizations that embark on this digital journey collaboratively will be the ultimate winners and will place themselves at the center of these digital ecosystems. These leaders will quickly master new digital relationships with their customers, end users, suppliers, and partners. Organizations need to devote time and effort to train their existing employees on the new ways of working via training programs. Business acumen with technology skills is what makes an individual the right fit in today’s digital ecosystem.


To become future proof, the retail workforce needs to be flexible, and willing to learn new skills and to sustain retail business by adapting to changing customer expectations. Today’s niche services will be tomorrow’s standard so there is a need to embrace the culture of experimentation and innovation, where ability to learn quickly will take an individual forward.

I would recommend you to visit our Connected Employee Experience offers page to learn more, I am happy to share the news that Capgemini has been named a Leader in Gartner’s 2020 “Magic Quadrant for Managed Workplace Services, Europe” for the second consecutive year.