Spotlight: Challenges in Finding Executives in Retail

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October 5, 2021 – Pamela Ruebusch is the founder and owner of TSI group. When she started the company over two decades ago, her goal was to create a company that would provide the best talent and executive search services available primarily to the supply chain industry across North America. Her entrepreneurial drive and strategic vision have enabled her to develop her company in line with market and customer requirements.

Ms. Ruebusch recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss the current retail recruitment climate and some of the executive search challenges for the industry.

Pamela, discuss the current climate for executive recruitment in retail.

The retail industry is constantly evolving due to digitization and technology as it also leaves the COVID-19 pandemic behind, making executive recruiting more difficult. The sector makes up a significant proportion of the North American workforce, but has made a remarkable change due to the increase in AI tools and e-commerce channels. This prompts companies to invest in skilled executives to lead a business into the new and digitally driven retail landscape. This has been observed as industry giants supplement their retail stores with additional services and offerings such as e-commerce, delivery, and pre-packaged products. In particular, part of the online grocery and retail e-commerce business has grown 10 times due to the increase in online shopping during COVID. This increase has resulted in the need for additional leadership roles in many companies as they focus on bringing ecommerce and digital executives into the team.

Additionally, recruiters are finding that there is a large and eager pool of candidates looking for executive positions in retail now that businesses are reopening after the pandemic. Now executives can explore different options as employees are flexible and work from home. This has made it possible to find talent internationally and to find managers with the right skills to fill the positions. For this reason, the climate for attracting executives to leave the company requires incentives for companies to be hired due to the high demand for talent and fierce competition in the marketplace. Signing rewards have risen sharply and companies are attracting candidates by providing them with the right incentive.

What are the challenges when filling management positions in the industry?

Over the past year, TSI Group has seen the executive search industry face various challenges in filling executive positions in retail and hospitality due to its ever-evolving climate. Many high-level executives in the industry are difficult to attract and hire because they have a long-term commitment to their organization. This is due to benefits and incentives such as B. Loyalty bonuses incurred by senior executives that make it difficult to recruit in this sector. In addition, it requires more effort and incentives from the client to surpass the current incentives candidates receive in order to attract various new executives for positions. This has made the market extremely competitive as the incentive packages increase. Additionally, there has been a shift in reaching executives who are looking in other industries where the skills are transferable to the executive level. This has led to an increase in the number of applicants as companies look for transferable skills, not necessarily industry experience. Therefore, it is imperative that the executive search industry focus on finding candidates who have the skills and are a long-term fit for companies.

How has technology affected the industry?

Over the past few years, and especially during COVID, we’ve closed countless brick and mortar stores and replaced them with e-commerce retail stores due to the advancement in AI technology. With this advancement, retailers have been able to quickly adapt to these changes and examine how they can transform their business model to improve the customer experience both in-store and online. This has led various retailers to streamline their processes through various digitization methods in order to keep up with international and national competition. This has also impacted the supply chain and the transportation sector as retailers rely on these industries to efficiently deliver their goods to consumers. We found that trends in organizations geared towards e-commerce prior to the pandemic were unable to keep up with their high demand for products because they are more easily accessible to consumers. Alternatively, brick and mortar stores without an e-commerce platform suffered the ups and downs of closings prior to COVID and were unable to bring products to consumers as they could not quickly adapt to the online climate. In addition, the technology has expanded the candidate’s talent pool to a global point of view due to the ability to work remotely. We have seen an increase in the hiring of international talent as remote work increases. Advances in technology and the way executive recruiters rely on it have given recruiters the ability to conduct their entire sales cycle on their computer from anywhere in the world. With that, we’ve seen a shift in both the retail and executive search sectors, and how technology has influenced the way we work.


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