Retail Labor Woes Hinder Efforts To Build Customer-Service Mecca

by MR Magazine Staff

Brick-and-mortar retailers hoping to fend off Inc. need to deploy the one weapon that could set them apart: top-notch customer service, provided by actual humans. But making that goal a reality relies on something they’ve not really invested in — well-trained employees with the kinds of wages and regular hours that make them want to stick around. This illustrates traditional retailers’ dilemma. In the face of existential threats such as e-commerce and declining mall traffic, more generous pay might improve service. But it comes at the risk of spooking skeptical investors, who are already closely monitoring costs and margins. “It’s obviously a delicate tightrope, where retailers that are watching their profit squeezed need to figure out where to cut,” said Simeon Siegel, an analyst at Instinet LLC. “Looking at the people who drive that business as an asset instead of a liability is difficult.” Read more at Bloomberg.