Retailers ramp up omnichannel for holiday season

Almost one-quarter of retailers predict at least a 5 percent increase, if not more, of year-over-year sales for this upcoming holiday season. The most significant shift for retailers is the changing omnichannel landscape, according to the eighth annual retail seasonal hiring survey released by Hay Group.

Nearly half, 47 percent, of those surveyed said they have an omnichannel strategy in place, compared to the 14 percent that did in 2013. And almost 71 percent of retailers will be relying on, at least in part, their mobile platform to drive holiday sales.

Omnichannel strategies have also affected hirings for the holiday season. Fifty-nine percent of retailers said their omnichannel strategy has impacted the training they provide sales staff.

Retailers can no longer settle for point-and-sell stockers when it comes to staffing their stores," said Maryam Morse, national practice leader for Hay Group's retail practice. "Consumers now expect a seamless shopping experience across channels. To respond to this demand, retailers must have well-trained and nimble in-store employees who can serve as true brand ambassadors, leading customers to the point of sale, regardless of where the product resides."

The optimism this year is reflected in the decision adopted by 70 percent of retailers to hire staff at 2013 levels with an emphasis on bringing on even more permanent members, up to 24 percent from 12 percent last season.

"Retailers have their fingers crossed for a strong 2014 holiday season," said Craig Rowley, VP and global practice leader for Hay Group's retail practice. "In the meantime, however, they're acting prudently. Though we've seen GDP jump by more than 4 percent in the second quarter, the same economic bump hasn't yet translated to the retail sector. Foot traffic remains slow, and back-to-school shopping had a slow start this year, so retailers are being careful in their holiday season planning."

Several companies have announced an emphasis on omnichannel strategies this year, especially as they move out of the latest quarter and head into the holiday season. For example, Pier 1 Imports (NYSE:PIR) recently announced that its continued investment in ominichannel will boost sales in the coming year. And Macy's (NYSE:M) just announced its foray into same-day delivery services as part of the company's larger omnichannel initiative.

For more:
-See this Hay Group press release

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