Monday, October 8, 2018

Role of HRM in Retailing Sector: A Reflective Approach

Reading List:

Prithviraj Chauhan's Understanding Human Resource Cycle for Wal-Mart Kindle Edition. Amazon Asia-Pacific Holdings Private Limited
Sang Chul Choi, John Dawson, Roy Larke and Masao Mukoyama (Edts) The Internationalisation of Retailing in Asia. Routledge; 1 edition (14 August 2018)
John R. White and Kevin D. Gray (etds) Shopping Centers and Other Retail Properties: Investment, Development, Financing, and Management.  John Wiley & Sons 

The relevance of marketing in the retail sector is an integral part of economic development of any nation. The role of the retailers are significant bridging the gap between the manufacturer and the consumers. In this process there hurdles that the retailers face on a daily basis. Moreover, with the development of production related knowledge in the consumers and easy accessibility to market through online services are creating tremendous havoc to the sector of retailing. In the contemporary marketing scenario, the consumers are much aware about their choices and are specific about their expectations (Dey, et al 2012). As a result, the consumers are getting very conscious about the proportionate distribution of price in association with the quality and quantity of the goods that he needs.
This analytical approach looks into the process of understanding consumer behaviour in context of
Human Resource (HR) management in the sector of retail marketing. The purpose is to understand all those aspects that are responsible for creating hurdles for the retailers in gaining knowledge about the consumers’ behaviour, expectations to be specific. The role of HR in this sector is vital and hence, the objective of this study remains close to the role of HR in managing retail marketing approaches.  

HRM Strategy for Online Marketing

The strategic HRM approaches for managing marketing executives at the retail sector needs a clear knowledge about the reasons behind the reducing count of consumers in the physical marketing scenario. With the development of technology, people are more inclined to go for online shopping. According to PwC UK Study people are getting involved in online shopping because of the following reasons-

Source: PwC UK Study (2012, p. 5)

Facing the increasing challenges led by technological developments, by the marketing retailers; is an increasing threat to this sector. The role of HR in this sector must remain close to the process of assessing effectiveness of every retail marketing executive in the physical market. HR must initiate some strategic activities in order to enhance the participation of the executives and connect the same to the target of meeting the goals of the organisation. Based on the assessed skills of employees involved in the retail sector, the HR must implement the strategic formulation of introducing ‘Connected Retail’ to the employees (Matthews, 2018).  It is important for HRM to understand that e-commerce is actually not a technical hurdles, but with adequate knowledge it can be turned up into the most effective mode of branding (Emrich and Verhoef, 2015). According to Lemon, and Vehoef (2016) the online marketing is a boon to the retailing sector. It demands less executives and offers specific understanding about the behaviour of targeted consumers. By means of implementing the strategic marketing approach of Connected Retail, every competitive company can start tracking the choices and the preferences of the consumers. This can be done from the in-house services through the use of internet connection. The approach is very convenient and easy in meeting the consumers directly and offering the best price possible. It is this strategic approach that HR must consider while recruiting the new employees of the company in the sector of retailing. Matthews (2018) stated that in the next five years the retailing sector will grow enormously through internet. It is matter of adaptation that the HRMs of different organisations must consider along with the traditional mode of retailing. 

Maintenance of Legal, Ethical and Safety Contexts

With the increasing demands for welfare of the employees, the HRM of the retail sector too must start emphasising on the prevention of the sector through positive safety culture. It is the responsibility of the HRM retail to offer appropriate working environment to the retail executives and the connected consumers. In doing so the retail sector must remain strict with legal and ethical principles of marketing. The core issues can be marked as –

As emphasised by Singh (2014), creation of positive environment, with right mode of managing legal norms in a company are the chief responsibility of HRM. In the retail sector the same gets implemented in creating the marketing network of the business. The HRM retail should be able to take care of the responsibilities of marketing and retail, as bestowed upon the executives (Jing, et al 2014). The cash as well as compensation or incentives must get distributed as per performances and not as per any biased discrimination. Positive mode of safety culture must be developed within the organisation and the same must get extended by the HRM retail to the level of consumers. Rychert and Wilkins (2018) stated that in the retail sector feedbacks from the consumers must be collected on regular basis and necessary changes should be initiated accordingly. Violation of any ethical or legal norms can make the company gain negative impact from the market. Maintenance of privacy of the consumers must be at the top list. Removal of all sorts of unsafe conditions, or technically inappropriate mode of business is a matter of great concern to the HR of retail sector.
Since, the retail sector remains in close contact with the consumers, Rathi and Lee, (2015) stated that the brand image of the company relies a lot on the activities of the HTM retail. Hence, HRM retail must remain involved in various CSR related issues, and work towards eradication of racial or disability related concerns. Issues of the employees within the company, and regulations for maintaining safety and health issues should be a common practice. Handling restructuring of retail related marketing strategy and layoffs, is also inseparable context from the responsibility of HRM retail of any company.

Retail Sector: Analysis & Work Designs

Responsibility of HRM is much concern about the framework of structuring the retail design in the respective market. In the reference to the contemporary state of organisational status of analysing job as per the level of proficiency of the employee, remains equally relevant to the kind of job a particular employee will initiate. HRM from the retail sector must distribute the marketing work of retailing in accordance to the skills, knowledge, abilities and familiarity of the employee to the respective culture of the market. Edwards (2018) made it very specific that necessary survey of the market prior to the launching of new product is necessary for the HRM retail, as the same will offer the room for right working design of the retailing in the market. The knowledge of the workers about the target market is something that the HRM must keep in its priority list. Employees from same culture are more appealing to the consumers, and can be used for meeting the cultural gaps of retailing.
Application of analytical knowledge is the key tool for HRM retail in terms of acquiring market related preferences and the demands of the consumers through marketing education among the employees. Learning about the behaviour of the consumers and their cultural structure to know possible demands, is liable to make the company gain better hold over the market (Troebs, et al 2018). The element of cultural understanding is very important in terms of designing the retailing plan. As the analysis of the same will make the HRM understand the population of the market, it will become convenient for the company and the marketing team to sell the kind of items that the population prefers. The issues related to colour, size, pattern, price are all related to the cultural practices and values as observed by the consumers. According to Price (2016) analysis of the market and construction of retailing plan must accept adequate amount of transformation by decentralising the autonomy of the manager. It is also necessary that the HRM remains focussed in gaining consumer loyalty for long term sustainability. This further demands the means of elevating the well-being of the customers as per their preferences.  Hence, well-crafted retail design on this basis can offer better scope of development to the company in the cross-border market, and further growth in the international retaining sector.

HR Planning & Information Systems in Retail Sector

In order to gain prosperity and attain sustainability in the market, it is very important that the HR of the company functions in a very systematic manner. There is the need for right kind of planning and implementation of appropriate information system. So that the targeted consumers can be turned into loyal consumers. Following the steps of Supply Analysis à Demand Analysis à Gap Analysis à Strategy Development, are very significant in creating the right planning for the retaining sector of any product or service (see Figure below).  

As analysed by Grimmer, et al (2018) the sector for retaining is the ultimate step that decides the sustainability factor and the growth possibilities of any company. Hence, it is this sector that must undergo analysis of the supply arrangement of the particular product or the service. In doing so, Agyeman and Ponniah (2014) stated that emphasis must remain concrete over levels of staffing, skills of the workforce, demographic placement of the market and the trends of employment, as per the needs of the consumers. Demand analysis is the next step that follows understanding about necessary skills needed for the workforce, patterns of the staff in the retaining chain, and the anticipations that might occur while changing the workload. In the retaining sector, it is the HRM that must function in meeting the gap between the company and the consumers (Yoo, et al 2015). In doing so, the supply and demand scales must get well compared by HRM retail. This will be followed by determination of shortages and the excesses that might occur in the market in future. Changes in workforce as per the demographic placement is an important step that HRM retail should consider, and thereby identify necessary actions for gaining grounds for growth of the company. As all these points get set, the HRM needs to make a strategic plan, whereby extensive use of information technology system must be used for organisational development in retaining sector. Huang and Gamble (2015) stated that the process of recruiting, succession and employee development and retention must be initiated as per relevance and responses of the consumers of the market. In a way, HRM retail must prepare the platform for organisational change, whenever necessary.

Recruitment & Selection in Retailing

The determined sources of recruitment depends on the characteristic features of being reliable, valid, generalizable, with utility and legality. As specifically noted by Wongkitrungrueng, et al (2018) the recruitment process in an organisation must remain very specific in terms of meeting the demographical structure of the market. This means that people who are recruited in the retail sector, should have adequate knowledge about the cultural values and practices of the target population. As the retailer will be from the local population, the company will attain adequate amount of trust from the consumers. Swoboda, et al (2016) identified that similar cultural practices and backdrop are useful tools for creating the sense of trust among the consumers. It is in this context that the HRM of an organisation must be very particular in identifying skilful employees from the local community. The selection process must be based on practical understanding of the kind of knowledge that the employee should have about the particular retailing product or services. Along with it, there is the need to have adequate understanding about placing the retailing service as per the cultural values and believes of the consumers. 
As identified by Huang and Gamble (2015) the relevance of local culture and the way of presenting the product or service for sale. These scholars further added that it is not appropriate to remain static in terms of gender biasness and holding back issues that are not practiced or entertained in particular market, as per its demographical positioning. Gender as well as employment linkages must be handled in specific manner by HRM for the overall development of the organisation, and thereby gaining better services from the recruited employees.  It can be hence, stated that the selection and the recruitment process in any organisation must have adequate amount if hold over the cultural values and the practices of the market. Violation of any kind can create threat to growth and sustainability of the organisation.

From critical analysis of various peer-reviewed journal articles, it has been derived that the major challenge that the retailing sector is facing in the contemporary market is about the increasing demands of online services and products. However, such challenges can be handled if the HRM starts enhancing its technologically structured marketing procedures. It is important to use social networking platforms for the expansion of the business and creation of the brand image. There are other hassles related to maintenance of legal, ethical and safety related concerns in a company. In the retailing sector, maintaining the regulations and policies of the particular host nation, can create better scope of development to the company. Retailing in general must function as per determined legal and ethical norms. Moreover welfare in general is highly appreciated.
It is the work design in the retailing sector that gets challenging for HRM in a new market. However, even for the same, the HRM needs to remain strategically active and aware of the cultural gaps that can crate hurdles in retailing. Still appropriate planning & further encouraging the information system of an organisation is liable to boost the retail sector, as by doing this, the company avails wider international platform for meeting demands of the consumers. Lastly, for the success of all the aforementioned activities the selection and recruitment process should be such that the employees comprises of the capabilities to build trust among the consumers.

Eventually, it is appropriate to consider that the HRM plays a major role in establishing the market for any product or HRM is responsible for making all sorts of necessary arrangements in placing the company in a market. The contemporary challenge of meeting the online marketing provisions must be handled strategically by the HRM. It has been derived that online marketing is a definite threat to traditional mode of marketing, but on the other hand, it is a boon if handled properly. The same remains application for the expansion of a business through retailing on internet. The role of HRM remains vital while maintaining the legal regulations, ethical norms and safety and well-being related contexts of both employees and the consumers. These are the contexts that varies from one nation to another. The variations of every market must get well analysed by HRM so that the work design of the retailing team can appear fruitful. The planning and utilisation of information system by HR remains directly related to the functionalities of the retailing sector. Specific attention on recruitment as well as selection of employees as per demographic origin too plays a significant role in retailing sector.
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