How to overcome grocery staffing challenges head on
July 14, 2021
It’s no secret that staffing and labor are hot topics in the grocery industry right now as retailers face several challenges. While many independent retailers were able to hire service industry workers and others looking for work during COVID, the landscape is changing rapidly for retail in the US and there’s much more competition for workers. In a situation where there is so much outside of an independent retailer’s control, it’s important to identify and streamline those things within your control:
1. The way you position yourself and the job opportunities you offer to jobseekers.
2. The way you evaluate candidates to guarantee you’re finding the right fit for your needs and who will also stay in the role long term.
Sell them on a career in grocery
To start, independents should think about all the reasons why a career in grocery is rewarding, particularly if they’re looking to attract workers from outside the industry. Consider exactly what makes your store a desirable place to work - do you have deep ties to the community? Make this the cornerstone of your marketing and social media presence. Are you making tech, data, and ecommerce a key part of your strategy? Attract workers interested in tech and excite them with the cutting edge changes happening in our industry. Clearly explain how your business is transforming and the needs you are fulfilling for your customers to paint a compelling picture of why others should get onboard with your vision.
Demonstrate opportunities for career growth
There’s no shortage of headlines covering increased wages at leading brands, but positioning yourself as a competitive choice to job seekers is also about culture and job trajectory. Workers who are motivated by wages are also looking for something else: a pipeline of opportunities for career growth. If several of your management level employees rose through the ranks, you can tell a powerful story about your business rewarding hard work with greater responsibility and leadership opportunities. Advertise professional development workshops and training your company offers to demonstrate the career potential workers have if they join your ranks.
Hire the right team
Once you’ve sold job seekers on a career in grocery with your store, how can you be sure they’re a long term fit? To ensure the health of your ecommerce program, it’s essential to have the right people in those roles. Running a successful ecommerce program requires a capable Director of Ecommerce and pickers who can fulfill orders efficiently and correctly.
An Ecommerce Director oversees the online shopping service and ensures its success. Typically a Supervisor or Assistant Manager, the primary responsibilities are to drive customer adoption and program results. This is achieved by focusing on quality control, labor efficiency, checking the accuracy of the shopping site (product data, pricing, etc.), and making sure exemplary service is provided to customers. Look to hire someone who has experience running ecommerce or has an interest in tech. This is a great opportunity to promote someone in your organization looking for greater responsibility (that opportunity pipeline!). Experience in customer service and marketing will come in handy when it comes to spreading the word about your online offering.
Stores typically train 3-4 employees for picking and processing customer orders to support anywhere from 25 and 300 orders per month. On average, it takes these employees approximately 10 minutes to pick a $60 order (20-30 items). When it comes to training new workers for these positions, it’s essential that they learn the store layout quickly and well. One tip is also to train all employees how to pick and the best practices so anyone can jump in to assist in fulfilling online orders during busy times. While it may take some time to train all your employees, it could save a headache down the line during busier seasons.
While many grocery shoppers are starting to return to in-person shopping, 80% of shoppers told Rosie they would continue ordering groceries online either the same or more than they currently do in the next 12 months. To ensure your store can keep up with the continuing demand, it’s essential to have the right workers in place to make your ecommerce program a success.