Global Retail Data: Customers have more access to product information than store associates


Today, the first global provider of integrated employee experience and workforce management solutions, WorkForce Software, published the results of global retail workforce management study with Retail Systems Research (RSR), which revealed that giving frontline deskless workers access to modern workforce management technology leveraging mobile devices frees up their managers’ time and allows employees to have real-time access to smart business communications, KPIs, sales trends, and goals so they can have an immediate impact to the daily business – exactly where their work is happening – on the sales floor servicing customers.

“Mobile” is the underlying theme for technology enablers when it comes to the deskless retail workforce. With the unfortunate exception of average and under-performers’ failure to roll out “mobile devices to free up managers’ time,” empowering employees with the same mobile technology that consumers use is clearly the way forward. While 48% percent of “Winners” rate that capability “high value,” 61% report that the technology is installed and delivering value. While such a finding might be a notable anomaly, the data-inside-the-data shows that it is once again the largest retailers that are driving adoption (70% compared to 41% overall). The retail industry’s technology enablers are leading the pack on pinpointing the benefits of mobile technologies for their deskless workforces around the world and improving the overall employee experience.

  • Mobile automated time and attendance capability is the number one use of mobile technology for the deskless workforce of top retailers, with 76% of retail winners placing a “high value” on it. It is imperative in a highly disruptive COVID world that employees have the flexibility and accessibility needed to better manage and organise their personal work schedules while still meeting the needs of the business. This technology greatly improves their employee experience and can impact their retention.

  • Over-performers place a higher value on technology that is aimed at employee empowerment. 90% of the largest retailers assign “high value” to employee communication portals (compared to 54% overall), and 80% assign “high value” to real time employee performance dashboards (compared to 51% overall). Employee communication portals, mobile peer-to-peer communications, mobile self-scheduling, and self-paced and gamification of training accessed through mobile devices are all intended to help employees help themselves through modern workforce management technology.

  • The pervasiveness of mobile technologies creates the opportunity for retailers to use smart team communications to encourage teamwork and to provide just-in-time information to global, or local, staff members. Retail “Winners” see the opportunity with 67% of retail “Winners” placing a high value on peer-peer messaging and collaboration, 61% touting mobile for employee “micro” trainings happening in-the-moment they are needed on the salesfloor, and 61% of Retail “Winners” seeing the value in mobile “in context” smart communications being embedded into workflows and communicated through their mobile devices directly to frontline retail workers.

The global pandemic further illustrated that, moving forward, retailers must rapidly adjust to the ‘never normal’ world of commerce, and they must consistently enable faster responses for their deskless workforces – these are the people on the salesfloor meeting and servicing the customer. This can have an immediate impact to their business; 38% of top retailers surveyed indicated that consumers have more access to product information than their associates can provide in stores. Allowing smart mobile WFM capabilities for the frontline workforce can combat this.

“Many senior executives tout that ‘our most valuable assets are our employees,’ and the time is now to back that up by investing in modern workforce management mobile technologies for frontline retail workers,” said Brian Kilcourse, Managing Partner, RSR. “Many global retailers are blazing a trail by empowering their frontline deskless workers with powerful WFM technologies. Their employees are reporting a better work experience, feeling more engaged and heard at work, and through mobile technology, they can have the time and autonomy to meet their retail customers on the salesfloor and thoughtfully interact with them, creating meaningful sales connections for their brand.”

With retail habits changing, a process accelerated by the impacts of the pandemic, the current “Winners” in retail are prepared to overachieve once more. The research showed that retail “Winners” have a more favorable view of employee management tools, such as employee performance dashboards, task management, KPIs and alerts, and onboarding systems. Retailers with WFM technology can lean into the unprecedented changes in the retail industry, and quickly equip their workforce to meet fluctuating customer demands. Those that do not empower their deskless workforce with critical and necessary mobile technology and smart communications, risk being left behind with below-target sales figures and losses incurred from a lackluster customer experience.

“Retail is often our canary in the coal mine, forcing them to be early adopters of leading technologies with a do-or-die business mantra. Other industry leaders should look to these retail ‘Winners’ that are building organisations of the future – those that are empowering their employees, retaining their staff, and building a loyal customer base – all orchestrated by a powerful modern workforce management solution,” said Sandra Moran, Chief Marketing Officer of WorkForce Software. “Learn from the insights of retail ‘Winners’ in this research report, invest in your frontline deskless workforce, who are the most important asset in your business. This research demonstrates there are clear performance variations between winners who leverage WFM technologies and improve their employees’ experience, and those that have not.”


Join WorkForce Software and RSR for a live webinar on August 10, 2022, at 11:00 AM EDT and 4:00 PM BST titled, “The Modern-Day Retail Associate: Passionate, Informed, Engaged.” Register here for the free US and EMEA webinar and here for the free Australia webinar.


For this research, conducted online by Retail Systems Research (‘RSR’) in the spring of 2022, senior figures within the retail industry were targeted, with answers coming from 82 retail executives.

*In RSR benchmark reports, RSR frequently cites the differences between over-performers in year over- year comparable sales and their competitors. RSR finds that consistent sales performance is an outcome of a differentiating set of thought processes, strategies, and tactics.  They call comparable sales over-performers “Retail Winners.” RSR’s definition of these Winners is, assuming industry average comparable store/channel sales growth of 7 percent, they define those with sales above this hurdle as “Winners,” those at this sales growth rate as “average,” and those below this sales growth rate as “underperformers,” or “all others.”