The retail industry is considered one of the largest private employers in Australia and also the largest employer of young workers, aged between 15 and 24. It is projected that employment in this industry will grow significantly until 2023, at a growth rate of 4.1 per cent over the next five years – over 200,000 professionals are predicted to be employed in Australia by 2022. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), employment in retail trade in Australia in February 2018 was just over 1.3 million people; almost 11% of the workforce. As one of the biggest employers in Australia, any changes in the industry are likely to impact a significant number of workers.
Working in retail provides you with a challenging, fast-paced career, putting your people skills to the test. It is a complex industry that requires a high degree of professionalism, communication, leadership and organisation skills. A career in retail offers many benefits to potential employees; you can often choose working hours, you may be offered company discounts, and the communication skills you gain are transferable to other sectors and even other countries – because retail is everywhere.
The retail industry is currently facing rapid change. The impact of ecommerce and rapid shift to online shopping is transforming the retail landscape. Ecommerce is impacting everything from parcel deliveries to grocery shopping. Online growth is slowly outpacing overall growth of retail sales, and retailers are improving their ecommerce presence and rethinking their physical bricks-and-mortar setup.
The customer’s experience in buying simply doesn’t look the same these days. Now, customers are aware they can find great deals online and they are more concerned about the in-store experience they get from a retailer. Customers can find out everything they need to know about a product online, where they research and read customer reviews, and they will often know as much or more about a product than the staff in store. However, customers still do prefer to buy in person. They worry about the quality and reliability of cheap online retailers, so when they are able to see and touch products in store – customers feel more comfortable about buying the product. Bricks-and-mortar stores are likely to continue based upon this, but it will be those an excellent customer experience that will thrive.
Point-of-sale technology and retail management systems means that it has never been easier to open a retail business. Low advertising costs, with the introduction of social media and other digital channels, has also been a contributing factor in simplifying the process. Now, stores compete with each other by enhancing customer experience in new and unique ways, and employing the right people. Providing a personalised service to the customer is vital, as customers want to receive high-quality service, not just be sold on the product.
Consumer concerns are more important than ever. Research shows that nine out of ten Australians are concerned about sustainability, and consumer preference towards sustainable products and companies continues to grow. Consumers increasingly care about where the products they’re buying are sourced from, and how production affects the environment.
The move towards sustainable and ethically sourced products has meant that retail needs to focus on where their products come from. With the power of social media at our fingertips, unethical practices can easily be found out and spread virally online, causing catastrophic consequences to a company’s brand and image.
Retail is an industry that offers flexibility, variety, job benefits and more. The variety retail affords is everywhere – there are many different retail industry sectors to choose from, including clothing, beauty, food and hardware. It is also an industry where you can work your way through the company to the top, allowing you to move through a multitude of job roles and opportunities. Ultimately, you may find yourself in the role of manager. As the manager, you will be hiring and training your staff, so you get to choose who you work with, and this can be ideal as you will be working with people you get along with and respect. There is the added benefit of flexibility in retail, in the type of work you perform but also in the hours that you work, with part time or full-time opportunities available, giving you the ability to easily manage a career and family responsibilities.
If you’re interested, Industry Skills Training offers a retail course that might suit you. Contact us on 1300 757 296 to discuss training options.