SAP survey illustrates talent shortages for retailers focused on e-commerce and Big Data analysis

Retailers "don't know where new skilled managers will come from and don't see the required skills reflected in the current talent pool."

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Finding employees with the right functional competencies continues to be a challenge for retailers according to a recent survey by SAP AG. In an environment where the ability to understand and manage technology and data is increasingly in demand, retailers are worried about filling management positions with employees that have the strategic skill sets needed.

Retailers see a need for functional competencies leaning toward technology and data skills, even more than general business and people management. But the survey revealed that 84% of retailers are worried that it will be challenging to find employees with these skills. Exacerbating the problem is the overall hiring trend: 93% of survey respondents said hiring will not decrease over the next two to three years. When asked to specify which skills are in high demand, retailers indicated they are focused on filling management-level roles that have a strategic impact on the business, such as:

Understanding and applying business analytics and Big Data in retail (80%)
Optimizing the retail business for omni-channel commerce (72%)
Analyzing consumer buying behavior for improved operations (55%)

Within these functional competencies, 97% of the retailers surveyed are aware of the challenge of finding and training employees for new skill sets. Retailers plan to approach this challenge using a mix of activities. The majority (75%) plan to hire new people from outside the organization to fill these roles, if they can find them. More than half said they plan to use in-house educational resources or organically develop new skills through experience and training. And 53% plan to offer external education opportunities to current employees to improve skills.

Other skills of note that are top of mind for retailers include mobile commerce management (50%), merchandise buying/planning (37%) and digital and social branding skills (37%).

SAP surveyed 76 retail managers from top-tier retail brands at the SAP Retail Forum North America, held last month in Dallas, Texas, and attended by retailers including Zappos, PGA Tour Superstore, Luxottica, eBay, Sports Basement and Shane Company.


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The View from the New “Single Window”
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