With the help of Conversational AI, fashion retailers can transform employee experiences, increase retention and drive long-term growth.
Fashion retailers regularly set and follow trends. Fashion ebbs and flows with changes on the runway as well as consumer demand, and this year we’re seeing bold colors, oversized suits, chunky shoes… and increased investments in enterprise technology. In 2021, for example, fashion retailers “invested between 1.6 and 1.8 percent of their revenues in technology” according to McKinsey, and this number is expected to grow to between 3 and 3.5 percent by 2030.
As fashion retail executives look to gain competitive differentiation through technology investments, they should also include Conversational AI in their plans, as the technology is well-established and has a proven record of driving growth and efficiency gains for companies. In fact, by embedding AI into their organization now, McKinsey predicts fashion retailers can expect a “118 percent cumulative increase in cash flow by 2030,” while those who are slow to deploy AI can expect a “23 percent relative decline.”
Now is the time for fashion retailers to invest in Conversational AI, as the retail industry continues to struggle to attract employees while consumers’ expectations for extraordinary in-person shopping experiences is at an all-time high. Investing in Conversational AI now will help fashion retailers retain engaged, informed employees and equip them for a prosperous future.
The AI-Powered Retail Employer
Fashion retail employees are no longer satisfied with their working conditions, and many are walking away from the industry altogether. The magnitude of employees leaving retail jobs is so great that industry executives are citing labor shortages as their most pressing concern, according to Deloitte. Most industries are contending with labor issues, but given that 20% of the American workforce is employed in retail and hospitality, these industries currently face the highest overall “quit rate” across all sectors. Therefore, it is critical for retailers to invest now in solutions that address employee pain points and needs.
Limited workplace flexibility and “a lack of meaningful work” are among the top five most cited reasons for leaving retail work, and these are two areas in which Conversational AI agents like Amelia can help. The current process for scheduling and swapping retail shifts is in dire need of transformation. For example, employees often have to text, call or email several colleagues before finding someone to take their shift. Once they do, they must also inform their manager, who then manually adjusts the work schedule. This process is inefficient, leaves room for human error and may cause employees to feel trapped.
When fashion retailers hire Conversational AI digital agents for employee services, staff members gain access to 24/7 support for requesting, rescheduling and swapping shifts. Digital agents can act as liaisons between colleagues and managers, while also leveraging integration capabilities with HR systems such as Workday to automatically update schedules. In doing so, employers make it easier and more accessible for staff to take control over their schedules and time.
Digital agents also help their human colleagues by taking on mundane and repetitive tasks, allowing human staff to focus on more meaningful, creative and complex job functions. The eye care retailer Visionworks of America hired Amelia, the market’s leading Conversational AI, to address this very challenge. Amelia now handles 100% of incoming calls for most of Visionworks’ retail locations, enabling staff to solely focus on delivering exceptional service to in-store customers.
Another way retailers can foster meaningful employee experiences is by deploying Conversational AI digital agents as whisper agents. Via mobile phone or tablet, digital agents can support staff with real-time, integrated information on in-store stock, items frequently bought together, and customers’ wish-lists and purchase histories. In doing so, every employee is equipped with the necessary resources to provide personalized, high-value service to every in-store customer.
Despite the growing importance of digital shopping experiences, brick and mortar stores – and the employees that work within them – remain the cornerstone of most fashion retail companies. However, to address the workforce challenges of today and succeed well into the future, fashion retailers must embed Conversational AI into their employee-facing operations. Because while many trends come and go, retailers — once they experience the benefits of digital agents — can see that AI will never go out of style.