Are Retailers Facing a Tech Skill Shortage?
In a survey by SAP AG taken during the recent SAP Retail Forum North America in Dallas, 84 percent of retailers expressed worry about finding employees with the skills to handle an increasingly technology and data-driven business.
When asked to specify which skills are in high demand, retailers pointed to:
- Understanding and applying business analytics and Big Data in retail (80 percent);
- Optimizing the retail business for omni-channel commerce (72 percent);
- Analyzing consumer buying behavior for improved operations (55 percent).
Within these functional competencies, 97 percent of the retailers surveyed are aware of the challenge of finding and training employees for new skill-sets.
Despite the challenges, 93 percent of survey respondents said hiring will not decrease over the next two to three years, according to the survey report that was e-mailed to RetailWire.
Retailers plan to approach this challenge using a mix of activities. Seventy-five percent plan to hire new people from outside the organization to fill these roles, if they can find them. More than half said they plan to use in-house educational resources or organically develop new skills through experience and training. Finally, 53 percent plan to offer external education opportunities to current employees to improve skills.
Other skills that are top-of-mind for retailers include mobile commerce management (50 percent), merchandise buying/planning (37 percent), and digital and social branding skills (37 percent).
SAP surveyed 76 retail managers from top retail brands during its forum, which was attended by retailers including Zappos, PGA Tour Superstore, Luxottica, eBay, Sports Basement and Shane Company.
Which is the best approach to the challenge retailers face in finding qualified tech applicants: hiring from outside or educating existing staff? How can recruiting for such tasks be improved?