What’s the most in-demand role in retail? (The answer will surprise you!)

Forget salespeople, developers are fast becoming the core of the retail workforce. With an increasingly tech-savvy consumer base, companies recognise that a skilled tech team is essential to retail success.

Salesperson is still the top job… but for how long?

These findings are backed up by a new LinkedIn survey reported by SHRM, ‘software developer’ is rapidly becoming a dominant role in retail. Coders are on their way to overtaking traditional salespeople within the sector.

Back in 2013, 33% of the retail workforce listed their job as a sales role, while 7% said they worked in tech. By 2017 the proportion of the workforce in a sales role dropped 4% to 29%, while tech roles rose 2% to 9% of the total workforce.

Although sales still makes up the largest group of workers in the sector by far, software developers are now the third-largest group. Between 2013 and 2017, the number of people describing themselves as retail salespeople on LinkedIn fell 41%.



Fewer jobs behind counters, more behind screens

It’s no secret that online shopping is growing in popularity and e-commerce is taking a progressively larger slice of the retail pie. There is no shortage of newspaper stories about how brands are closing retail outlets and dropping workers from bricks-and-mortar stores, while building distribution centres and hiring staff for e-commerce and fulfilment elsewhere.

However, while it’s indisputable that there are big changes afoot in the retail sector, the doom and gloom picture of empty high streets is a gross oversimplification. For example, in the US the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says the number of people working in retail grew 5% since 2013 and the number of in-store workers has risen 14% in the last ten years.

Headline figures for retail also often count workers in surprising ways, especially around tech roles. The people who work in software engineering, UX, network engineering, supply chain management and so on are often counted as having non-retail roles, which skews the data.



The retail’s top ten tech skills

According to a recent article on Forbes, the skills and experience that employers value most in tech professionals are:

  1. AI experience
  2. Ability to envision, design and develop AR apps
  3. Data science skills
  4. Mobile app development
  5. Cybersecurity
  6. SaaS and cloud computing
  7. Adaptability to new technology
  8. Coding and engineering experience
  9. Applied machine learning
  10. Scalable languages such as Python and Javascript

Are you ready for your next challenge?

River Island is always looking for driven and talented individuals to help us stay ahead of the curve. Our Delivery & Transformation team is expanding, with opportunities for bright individuals with a positive vision for the future of fashion retail. Take a look at our current vacancies.

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