Retail growth threatened by data skills shortage

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Report says sourcing talent from other sectors is crucial for growth.

Retailers will need to source talent from other sectors if they want to drive innovation and curb current skills shortages, according to a new report by ReThink Retail.

Analytics professionals, including Search Engine Optimisation and web analytics experts, will be in high demand to drive growth strategies.

ReThink Retail believe retailers will need to adopt “more robust talent management strategies or risk halting their growth”.

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This assessment is supported by Albion Ventures’ Growth Report, which highlighted that a third of companies feel a lack of skilled staff is holding them back

Director of ReThink Retail, Kate Barron, says: “Where professionals have previously had retail experience, the rise in omni-channel marketing and the growth of ‘Big Data’ analytics has resulted in greater demand for wider skills sets to support business growth and innovation – including technological and mathematical abilities. By adapting talent management strategies to focus on sourcing ‘well-rounded’ individuals with more general abilities, the sector will be better placed to overcome the current talent shortage and remain competitive.”

“It’s not entirely surprising, then, to see a shift in demand from professionals with extensive retail experience to those from outside the sector, particularly in the midst of a skills shortage. Businesses need to innovate to drive improvement and one of the only ways of doing this is to look for fresh thinking. That’s not to say those already in the arena will be out of work.

“The traditional roles such as buying, merchandising and production will always have a place in the sector, but they’ll be joined by roles in new areas that will aid the organisation’s growth. In the future we predict retail professionals will possess well rounded skill sets with experience and understanding of different areas of the market and how they can affect the business.”

A recent survey by technology firm Brickstream, found that 71% of businesses are using, or plan to use, analytic technology in their stores. Consequently, organisations must source professionals able to identify trends in data and build these results into corporate strategies.

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