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How Technology Can Help Manage Labour Shortages

While some solutions to labour shortages involve changes to recruitment practises and optimized staff schedules and benefits, many retailers are also turning to technology to help satisfy customer needs and take pressure off their existing personnel. And it’s not a short-term fix – technology and IoT are changing retail operations for good around the world, by increasing operational efficiency and making it possible for businesses to thrive with fewer personnel.

Let’s take a look at 5 labour shortage solutions that rely on technology to solve the problem.

1. Automation

Automation is nothing new, but many companies are relying on automated processes more and more to compensate for a shortage of human staff. Rapid advances in robotics technology have made it possible for some sectors to replace more people with robots than was previously possible, which has helped some types of business deal with labour shortages. 

However, this option is generally only available to companies with large budgets that rely on processes that are suitable for automation, such as sorting, stacking and painting. 

2. Better Communication

Four out of every five workers are frontline employees. However, many of these employees feel disconnected from the rest of the organization they work for, contributing to lower motivation and a greater likelihood of leaving.

Technology can make a difference. With better communication between management and front-line employees, companies can create a work atmosphere that encourages both efficiency and team spirit. When an employee knows that they will be notified rapidly and accurately of promotions, price changes and policy adjustments thanks to digitized operations, they feel they are an important and valued part of retail operations. Effective in-store communication includes both practical signage and informed staff, a coherent combination of technology and the human element that will continue to make real people a part of your strategy.

3. Self-checkouts

Retailers are increasingly adopting self-serve checkout terminals as a labour shortage solution that also improves operational efficiency. These self-service checkout machines typically require only one person to monitor multiple checkouts (anywhere from 4 to 10), depending on the location and usage frequency. This reduction in the need for checkout staff does not slow down customer service. Instead, it allows employees to be reassigned to more strategic tasks in the store, such as restocking items, arranging products for optimal visual merchandising, and providing direct assistance to customers.

The result is a well-organized store with available staff, easy-to-find products and a quicker checkout experience.

4. Digital pricing

With a labour shortage, changing price tags and labeling can be a challenging task for retailers. The retail market’s high frequency of price changes due to weekly promotions and inflation-driven increases poses a risk of errors.

However, digital display technology offers a labour shortage solution by allowing store employees to focus on essential tasks instead of spending hours relabeling multiple products. In some smaller retail stores, price changes and promotions require a dedicated resource, which can be difficult to manage with reduced staff.

Electronic Shelf Labels enable retailers to change label information simultaneously with all cash registers through their point-of-sale software, eliminating the need for manual label replacement.

The result is the elimination of in-store pricing errors and improved task management, allowing employees to focus on value-added tasks like customer service. Customers can shop with confidence, knowing they won’t encounter surprises at the checkout. Not only has the business found a labour shortage solution, they have also created an overall better shopping experience.

5. Ecommerce

Operating a physical store requires multiple employees, some of whom may only be available part-time, making work schedule management complex, especially during labour shortages.

An online shopping platform presents a viable alternative for struggling retailers. With online commerce, businesses can grow without the costs associated with opening new physical locations. While launching an e-commerce platform still requires dedicated employees, it can yield significant revenue with far less investment compared to a new brick-and-mortar store.

For optimal efficiency, it is advisable to integrate the online platform directly with your point-of-sale software. This way, any changes made to prices, promotions, product descriptions, or inventories in the software will automatically reflect in both your physical and your virtual stores. This seamless two-way communication between the physical store and the online platform boosts operational efficiency and speed. 

JRTech solutions help business deal with labour shortages

Using technology to bring everyone closer can help overcome labour shortages by creating a happier, better-informed workforce. Digital solutions like Electronic Shelf Labels can also help businesses become more efficient and effective, reducing the number of staff required to keep operations up and running. 

JRTech offers Electronic Shelf Labels and digital signage that big retail have put into place to improve operations and deal with labour shortages. Contact us to learn more about how our solutions can help your business manage worker shortages.