Modern executives must secure businesses’ viability well into the future, but the mobile revolution had greater consequences than anyone expected. With AR, VR and AI set to transform retail again, predictions made now can be entirely incorrect within the year. Strategies made to deal with the shifting market need to move with it. But if this is exhausting for c-suite budget holders, it’s baffling to employees on the ground. The employees that aren’t given any context are also the ones that need it the most, but they’re only being paid to do what they’re told, after all.

This assumption costs business dearly. It’s most visible in the struggling retail industry, where employees’ interactions with customers are failing to stem online purchase migration. Training at the top 10 retailers is minimal, wages are famously low and staff turnover is high. Almost a third of all retail employees in the UK were under 25 years old in 2017.

Executives are investing heavily in developing technological innovations that can amaze customers instore. But cutting-edge tech is only impressive if it delivers meaningful benefits. Robert Sorce, VP of Retail at Diane von Furstenberg said this about his time at GAP Inc:


‘It wasn’t about doing something fancy or making more expensive clothes… the problem is it costs money because you have to have staff that specialise’ – Robert Sorce, VP Retail, DVF

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According to Sorce, the shift in employee mindset made the change possible in the first place. So a workforce can change its mindset and therefore the experience for the customer irrespective of product. This has obvious advantages for top retailers looking to bring in big changes in the coming years.

What should companies do?

Endowing your employees with a positive attitude towards change is not easy. But with the acceleration of digital technology, it’s even more important for retailers to address the lack of training on their shop floors. A bad experience is always a bad experience, regardless of the intricacy of your strategy. With AI integration still in its infancy, your human employees are still the most critical part of your operation because they’re responsible for delivering your brand to the buying public.

uote from Sharon John, President of Build a Bear, it reads: continue to create aggressive action, even when you win


The brutal truth is that these days people are desensitised to technological advancement. The coolest thing on the market will age quickly, so tech is only part of the solution. But there is good news: upcoming generations of consumers love authenticity, which is something your employees can provide if they’re specialised, invested in and trained properly.

Ultimately it comes down to where you’re prepared to spend your dollars.

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