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Black Friday: How to Scale Up Your Retail Team Like a Pro

October 28, 2021 | By Hugo Britt

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Be prepared to compete for the best workers ahead of this holiday season. 

Last year’s Black Friday weekend was one for the record books. Shoppers spent a record $10.8 billion online shopping on Cyber Monday, according to Adobe Analytics. Black Friday sales were equally strong, as more than 100 million people participated in online and in-store shopping deals.

Black Friday weekend is a big weekend for retail brands, who often make a large percentage of their annual revenue just over these four days. That’s why it’s crucial to have the right team of staff in place to meet the surge in demand. If you haven’t started preparing already, here are some ways to scale up your retail team to make the most of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Be prepared to compete

The labor market is hugely competitive right now. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that retail job openings have reached 1.2 million in July, compared to 876,000 last year. Big-box retailers like Amazon, Walmart, and Target have already begun hiring thousands of workers to help meet demand during the holiday season.

As a result, many brands are offering expanded benefits and higher compensation to seasonal workers. Amazon, for instance, is providing an average starting pay of $18 an hour and signing bonuses of up to $3,000. Nordstrom’s seasonal workers will enjoy 20% employee discounts, among other perks. With so many companies competing for seasonal retail help, make sure your offer is comparable or better than other brands in your area.

Hire for the right roles

In the last few years, there’s been a marked increase in online sales compared to in-store retail sales. This shift marks the need to revisit your hiring strategy to make sure you’re hiring the right positions. Macy’s, for instance, is recognizing the rise of e-commerce by hiring 21,200 warehouse employees and forklift drivers, as well as 200 technology-based jobs.

Digital customer service, warehouse teams, and e-commerce specialists are all important roles to fill during the holiday rush. Some brands are filling these positions by broadening the job description. Vuori, an activewear brand, is hiring “omni associates” who spend two days working in customer service and three days working on the floor.

Offer remote options

Many seasonal workers are still nervous about returning to work. Some companies are offering remote customer service positions, allowing workers to log in to an online chat platform or answer calls from home. Other companies are building flexibility into their seasonal schedules. Target, for instance, has an app for employees to add or swap shifts as needed, and allows seasonal workers to pick up shifts when it’s most convenient for them.

Provide training

Many companies see contract work as a stop-gap measure that requires minimal investment. While contractors can certainly be a more affordable option than bringing on full-time employees, these workers still need training. Set your retail team up for success by giving them complete onboarding and training.

“Employees need clear expectations of what they’re expected to do, plus adequate training to be able to perform their job well,” Ashira Prossack, Millennial & Gen Z Engagement Expert told Glassdoor. “You can prepare your team for what to expect and give them a sense of what Black Friday will be like by scheduling new employees for weekend or peak-time shifts leading up to Black Friday. Then, about 2-3 weeks ahead of time, assign employees to zones in the store based on their strengths so that everyone feels very confident about their role on the big day.

Know who you’re hiring

Finally, make sure you’re hiring the right people. Use a background check solution built for retailers to make sure you’re finding trustworthy new hires who are ready to work right away. Properly vetting your seasonal workforce helps protect your business from liability and ensures you have the right people on your team to help manage the seasonal rush.

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