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Digital Skills Shortage Considered the Biggest Challenge Facing the UK High Street by 1 in 4 Retailers


A new report from and WBR Insights has revealed that over a quarter (27%) of UK retailers fear they don’t have the right expertise in their existing workforce to utilise Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other digital technologies effectively.

In a report based on interviews with 200 senior executives at major multichannel retailers, has highlighted that for retail businesses looking to improve their personalised digital solutions for shoppers, securing talent to deliver this is considered their second biggest challenge. Establishing a seamless omnichannel experience continues to test retail businesses and was found to be the number one challenge they face.

Tackling the digital skills shortage

Many retailers struggle to ensure they have the correct talent within their company to maximise digital investment. Competition for the best people in the industry is fierce and recruitment of digital and technology experts can be a long and difficult process.

Securing digital talent (27%) ranked higher than knowledge of big data (19%), achieving buy-in from the wider business (15%) and the cost of financial investment (9%).

Revolutionising the in-store experience

Under increasing pressure to compete with the ease and stress-free experience that online shopping offers, high street retailers have continued to invest in expanding and improving the in-store experience to increase customer loyalty. Technology is considered key to driving further footfall in-store, with 67% of retailers confirming they are already using geofence technology to connect online shopping to the high street; while a further 33% are planning to do so within the next five years.

Greig Danes, VP of Engineering at commented:

“These latest figures reveal the extent to which retailers recognise technology and digital investment as the key to growth both on the UK high street and online. AI and other digital innovations are transforming the shopping experience, and retailers are understandably concerned that they can’t find the right skills from their employees to fully maximise these rapidly growing technologies.

“To remain competitive and respond to customer demands, it is more important than ever for retailers to evolve their in-store and online offering and create a sense of occasion and experience for consumers. Fortunately, thanks to the rapid developments in both AI and AR technology, retailers can create an even more immersive experience for customers – helping them to build stronger connections with shoppers and encourage loyalty.

“As we become more familiar with these technologies in our day-to-day lives, this will eventually translate into regular shopping behaviour and ultimately help to bridge the digital skills gap currently experienced by UK retailers today.”