Retail trades still attract too few candidates

Retail trades still attract too few candidates

Resilient during the health crisis, large retailers are recruiting thanks to an economic recovery that should continue in 2023, despite inflation.

The development of digital, as well as the recent health crisis have changed the face of mass distribution. Two fundamental trends, often accelerated by this crisis, are thus helping to gradually change the professions in the sector, as well as its image: the development of e-commerce and the reduction in the relative importance of hypermarkets and supermarkets in favor of stores Proximity.

But it seems that these changes affect the professions without sufficiently enhancing their attractiveness.

E-commerce and proximity: in tune with the times

Carried away by the digital wave, e-commerce is set to progress further in the field of mass distribution. The trend is indeed general and we observe that it already represents between 20 and 25% of the turnover of certain Asian players (source INSEE).

In France, after a strong increase in 2020, the trend continues and the market share of e-commerce for consumer products stands at 9% according to Nielsen data for FEVAD relating to PGC/FLS, while the e-commerce sector as a whole (products and services), i.e. a broader scope, weighs 129 billion euros in 2021, and, after an increase of 15.1% over the year, posted a market share of 14.1%.

At the origin of this growing trend, digital technology and its procession of technical innovations. E-commerce sites offer a ergonomics and comfort of use to attract even more customers. In the service of marketing, they allow, thanks to algorithms sophisticated, to suggest purchases with relevance or to display a promotion at the right time.

Because it streamlines the activity and makes it faster and more efficient, the development of digital also translates into increased margins, both thanks to stronger automation that reduces order preparation costs at the heart logistics platforms, and by optimizing pricing resulting from better knowledge of consumer preferences. These operations are also based on complex algorithms and, therefore, on the recruitment engineers with very specialized profiles.

An impact on all professions

All retail trades are thus impacted by the development of digital technology: trades in the head office, that is to say the professions of communication, marketing, purchasing, accounting or even HR, but also warehouse professions, and, to a lesser extent, commercial professions, on the shelves or fixed . For their part, the catering trades are less affected because they remain associated with technical know-how whose specificity is now better recognized.

Although local shops are also benefiting from renewed interest among consumers, the dynamics of employment are still clearly driven by the outskirts of towns, areas of choice for large retailers.

Strong labor needs have been observed there since 2020 where, after a dip at the start of the year due to confinement, the growth in published job offers was significant from April in the four main types of activities associated with large-scale distribution: loading and storagelogistics support, general and retail functions.

Over the same period, however, we observe that the interest generated by the ads relating to each of these categories often does not reach the level that one would expect based on a measure of the number of clicks per ad on Indeed. For the profession, this translates into a lower quality of applications, which could eventually become a concern.

A situation which, coupled with the tension that currently exists in the labor market, also poses new problems for recruiters. The strong need for manpower observed will encourage them to rely even more on the automation of recruitment processes, in order to meet as many candidates as possible in a limited time, to more easily overcome the quality disappointing number of applications and to fill vacancies more quickly.

Less appetite among young people

In order to better understand the lack of interest aroused by these job offers, a study on the workers and professions of the large retail sector was carried out in March 2022 and analyzed the perception that the workers of the retail business. Two interesting elements stand out in particular: a less strong appetite of the younger generations for the sector, that is to say of those who are most likely to practice these professions in the future, and the fact that a little less than four working people out of ten would recommend these professions to their children. This reflects a lack of attractiveness, that work on the image and the employer brand for companies in the sector must allow to fill.

Communication is all the more necessary in that jobs at head office, which are supposed to require a higher level of qualification, are also perceived as offering fewer opportunities than the less valued jobs in mass distribution, with only 20% of respondents associating them with professions that recruit. Thus, if the perception of these professions is positive, they are considered to provide few jobs, affected, perhaps, by the very real reduction in the number of cashier/hostess, an emblematic profession of the mass distribution of ‘after FCD. The offers are then less looked at by potential candidates.

The HR function at the heart of these challenges

The HR function and recruitment are at the heart of current economic issues. They are obviously also at the heart of sectoral issues. The case of the retail sector, analyzed here, shows that preconceived ideas about certain sectors and professions – modernity, dynamism, wages, qualifications, etc. – can be detrimental to recruitment because they condition the quality of the applications made in response to the offers.

For large retailers, it is necessary to achieve, by working on the employer brand, to capture the best profiles. For this sector in full metamorphosis which offers great opportunities for a wide range of professions, and therefore profiles, it is a question of attracting the candidates who present the best potential – whether they are profiles oriented on new technologies, marketing or more traditional, such as catering. Indeed, today better recognized, the trades of the large distribution are not sufficiently associated with trades which recruit.