Retail associate enablement tools enhance the customer experience in the physical store and improve both labor and store operations efficiency. The pandemic, labor shortages, costly last-mile requirements, and the potential for rising wages mean omnichannel operations are under enormous pressure to drive efficiency. Even prior to the impact of COVID-19 in 2020, we found that 53% of retail and brand professionals said it was challenging to train store staff to properly pick, pack, and ship online orders. In a tight labor market, with employee acquisition and retention top of mind for retailers, training associates thoroughly and enabling them to perform fewer menial tasks with greater efficiency and oversight should be a primary goal for retailers.

Choose Platforms Rather Than Point Solutions

There is a plethora of tools to choose from, but point solutions have their limitations. As a result, progressive retailers are looking for complete enablement platforms with simple integrations to enable quick implementations and continued optimization. The key is to choose technology that serves the primary needs of the business while still allowing room for growth. We published the Now Tech: Retail Associate Enablement, Q3 2021 report to help retailers find the perfect fit for their needs. This research dives into four categories of solutions:

  • Task management and store operations support associates in their daily activities.
  • Communication and collaboration tools improve unplanned associate activity.
  • Clienteling helps associates engage in customer-facing support functions.
  • Workforce management is a platform for planned associate and team activity.

This year, we found a significant amount of functionality overlap across the 26 companies we researched. For example, 23 of the 26 solutions we included indicate they provide communication and collaboration tools, and 21 support task and workflow management. Due to this convergence of technology, it can be difficult for a company to determine the short list of tech solution candidates that’s right for them. Forrester is here to help!

Need some help finding the right fit or building a business case?
Start with the store associate tech solutions in Forrester’s report, Now Tech: Retail Associate Enablement, Q3 2021. You can also reach out to me via inquiry at Forrester for further guidance about your store associate enablement strategy and technology choices.