Retail Industry - Background

The retail industry made up of several segments, including grocery stores and supermarkets, which contribute the most significant share of food sales in the USA. The nation spends around $50 B each month on groceries, but margins are traditionally low, around 1%.

With market consolidation being the buzzword for the past few years, several prominent players are trying new formats like low-cost warehouse-style stores and European street-market-style healthy destinations.

While the cutting edge concept in grocery/retail stores without cashiers like Amazon, it is still a blip on the horizon for mainstream retailers.

Family doing shopping at a supermarket

However, every large grocer worth their salt is experimenting with online ordering, home delivery, and other variants. Success in the new age requires these companies to be nimble and agile, anticipating the next move of the opponent ever and keeping ahead.

Retail Industry - HR Challenges

Someone purchasing something at a store using a credit card

Hiring To Meet Needs

In most retail/grocery stores, over 85 percent of the workforce is hourly and exempt. Millennials treat retail jobs as a stop-gap arrangement, and there is a need to keep them motivated if they are to be retained for the long term.

Aligning the lean and busy purchasing seasons to the ideal number and quality of resources is also an ongoing challenge.

Labor Concerns

In the current political and socio-economic situation, there’s much talk about minimum wages. Across the countries, many labor unions are actively involved in discussions, and grocery stores usually have their ear to the ground to respond to any regulatory changes. Labor union agreements greatly influence several HR processes like performance management, merit increases, and promotions, thus restricting the reach of HR programs.


Most retail workers are part-time and on their feet, while they work. This makes it hard to get out the message to them. Companies that rely on their workforce to log into a store computer to access their schedules, complete their paperwork, fill in their performance information, are finding it increasingly difficult to achieve 100% compliance.

Effective HR Strategies To Address Retail Industry Challenges

Employment Branding And Talent Management

It is essential to build and maintain a strong brand image in order to cater to the newer generations’ search for meaning and purpose in what they do. Regular feedback thus becomes essential to understand what they want and how they are performing. Aligning talent management initiatives to these concepts is crucial.

Workforce Analytics And Planning

Most companies have excellent information and forecasts on sales across different seasons. However, HR often fails to draw the line between hiring and recruiting. Building and maintaining a workforce plan becomes an essential part of the business.

With the changing climate around wages, healthcare, and benefits, it becomes helpful to model and plan for different cost scenarios. Skilled employees and people analytics thus become critical aspects of this sector.



Retail is one of the best industries to showcase the importance of HR on mobile. When the majority of the workforce is away from a computer, it becomes of utmost importance to be mobile-enabled.

Companies need to up their game and embrace HR technology that supports mobile, especially if it involves daily activities like looking upregular schedule and calling off sick.