Over the years retail stores and customer service jobs have been changing right in front of our eyes over the many decades, but in some ways many things have stayed the same.
Typically retail stores have high turnover rates, whether it’s due to hiring seasonal workers or employees leaving. Turnover rates are the percentage rates that employees leave a company within a certain time frame.
Stores like Lowes, Home Depot, and Best Buy, just to name a few with customer service being a key point, tend to have high turnover rates.
Many reasons for these high employee turnover rates can be caused by mismanagement, low wages, and especially high competitive retail markets. If management does not support their employees or make the work environment more appealing for the workers, then the employees develop a lack of faith in the company and begin to look for other opportunities.
Wages are another aspect of retail that management seems to neglect. In retail, the work never ceases and can very well double or triple but the pay does not seem to follow suit. Companies do not seem to want to pay their employees more but do not stray from assigning more work on the employees, which is why many people leave those companies.
Retail is also a very high competitive market, where there are many opportunities for people to hopefully find a better job with a better workplace.
Some turnover rates could very well be due to the change in the generational society and the out of touch mentality of “the customer is always right.”
It is an abusive, entitled, and privileged mindset that customers believe once they enter the doors of a business.
The phrase, “the customer is always right,” was invented by Harry Gordon Selfridge in 1909. That phrase, coined later by other retailers such as John Wanamaker and Marshall Field.
That motto has been a driving point for excellent customer service for many generations but it subsequently has been the cause of abuse and mistreatment from customers to the employees in the retail and customer service business.
The mistreatment and abuse not only can derive from the customers but also from the company, take Amazon for an example. Amazon has been under fire due to the mistreatment from the company.
Then in 2019 Labour Behind the Label analyzed companies and graded them from A to E, A being the best and E being the worst. The analysis was to gauge whether leading clothing companies ensured a living wage to its workers. Amazon received an E.
“Amazon has no policy on living wage and make no mention of wages being enough to cover workers’ basic needs in their supplier code. It is appalling that a market player of this size and influence has managed to take so little responsibility for human rights at it suppliers, and has taken such a hands-off approach to this vital issue.”
Through Amazon’s underhanded business practices, such as underselling products to crush smaller businesses and then taking over all products and assets of the now dissolved smaller business. Take the $545 Million acquisition of Quidsi, the parent company of Diapers.com and Soap.com. Amazon undercutting Quidsi and its subsidiary companies by underselling similar products thus inevitably shutting down the competition by buying the companies before they go completely under. Once Amazon requires all of the product that the absorbed companies offered, they subsequently terminate the businesses and then control the market value by hiking up the products cost and making even more profits.
Amazon wants to monopolize the eCommerce market and be the controlling dictators of the online marketplace.
Amazon seems to consistently be under fire for evading paying appropriate taxes. In 2020 Amazon reportedly made above average profits of $20 billion, though they only paid a 9.4% tax rate instead of the regular corporate tax rate of 21%. That means that $2.3 billion of taxes were avoided by the corporate giant, Amazon.
According to a report on itep.org, under the tax law instituted during Trumps first three years of his presidency, Amazon only paid a federal income tax rate of 4.3%.
But what if all of that abuse and all that neglect that retail associates receive on a daily basis would be a thing of the past, or a thing of the future.
What if, in the future retail stores turn into fully automated, where customers walk in pick the items that they need, pay for them, and then leave, all the while security cameras keep an overt eye on any activity, purchasing or theft, in the store.
Hypothetically for example, retail stores, like Lowes and Home Depot, that rely on associates to stock the shelves and help the customer will no longer be needed and instead the shelves will be fully stocked with the entire inventory stock, with an automated machine occasionally fronting the inventory. Now, that would mean that the stores would have to be larger to accommodate the larger inventory.
The only thing that “associates” may be needed for would be after hours to restock the new inventory when it arrives, or perhaps automated machines would do this too.
Now, stores that have high product theft problems, like Best Buy, would transition to automated vending machine terminals that once the item is picked, the customer pays for it and then the product is dispensed from the vending machine.
That future is actually a reality, well at least in a small degree as there are places where stores have gone fully automated and operate through vending machines. Stores like this are already in cities like Shanghai, China and many cities in Japan. Even Amazon has automated stores called Amazon Go in Manhattan, Chicago, Seattle, and San Francisco.
The future of retail will be quite different, and though that will put a hole in employment in retail stores, it will potentially put a stop to the abuse and neglect that consumers give to retail and customer service workers.
Worker Abuse Needs to STOP!
Thanks for reading.