Cisco Canada Blog

Retail Customers Have Embraced Hybrid Work and Retailers Should Too

January 9, 2023

Although most retail jobs are still in-person — in store, in warehouse, in a delivery vehicle — that situation is changing. With a tight labor market and workers demanding more flexibility, the retail industry is responding with more opportunities for hybrid work. According to FlexJobs, retailers today are offering more remote work, including jobs that were entirely on-site until very recently.

A Gartner study details how digital transformation in the retail industry is moving forward at previously unknown speeds and leading to broader potential for serving customers and employees.

Customers mastered digital shopping long ago, and they expect retailers to keep improving the digital experience. It only makes sense that retail’s other main stakeholder, employees, should be expecting greater digitalization of how they work.

The retail buying process has changed — and it’s changing how retailers manage their businesses.

FlexJobs reports that a sampling of recently listed remote job titles on their site includes brand ambassador, client services professional, customer service representative, ecommerce professional, project manager, recruiting manager, retail account executive, and retail trainer.

The list of retail jobs that could qualify for hybrid work models is only likely to grow as the digitalization of the retail industry progresses.

The key to success with hybrid work for retailers is ensuring customers continue to get the well-rounded experience they expect.


The Future of Customer Experience

Customers today expect an omnichannel experience from retailers. Even smaller purchases may involve a search online or reading of customer reviews. Some people will look to social media sites, and others will read blog posts or watch online videos to help them make purchasing decisions.

Retailers need to be intentional and realistic about the future their customers expect. Customers today want deep product information, and they want to see a product in use — not just static photos.

If retailers want to be involved in the digital omnichannel journey their customers take, which could result with an in-store purchase just as likely as an online purchase, they need to address customers’ digital needs.

The Future for Retail Employees

The employees involved in serving the growing digital retail experience mostly don’t need to be on-site daily — and that’s good news for retailers. According to Global Workplace Analytics, businesses can save more than $11,000 per employee per year by letting them work remotely half-time. This number is based on savings in real estate, electricity, absenteeism, turnover, and productivity.

To hire and retain valuable talent, retailers need to be competitive in the ways they serve their employees. Workers today don’t just want flexibility — our complicated lives require it. Hybrid work technologies can provide for virtual employee training and collaboration that doesn’t require a flight or commute to headquarters.

Recommendations for Retail CIOs

Security: While planning for digitalization to serve customers and employee collaboration from anywhere, focus on security. Security must be the top priority in any IT decision. Secure collaboration tools and networks will ensure customer privacy and business continuity. Look for solutions that integrate meetings, calling, and security, and make sure they’re simple to manage.

Data sources: Plan for leveraging wireless, video, and other data sources to deliver personalized and contextual product and service information to customers. Customers expect to see the same information in-store and online, so ensure that experience is seamless.

Cloud-based: Tools and networks that can be managed in the cloud allow for better control and security — and they allow for access from anywhere. Look for solutions that are easy for employees to deploy without on-site IT, and meet the high demand for retail agility and scalability.


Are you ready to start exploring the top solutions for hybrid work and collaboration? Visit our Must haves for Hybrid Work in retail page, explore Cisco’s portfolio of solutions, and watch our on-demand webinar. When you’re ready with some questions and want to explore solutions, our hybrid work experts are ready to help. Cisco can empower your associates working at home, in the store, or anywhere.

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