National Skills Week 2023: Evolving Retail Skills

Now entering its thirteenth year, National Skills Week focuses on promoting retail as a viable and rewarding career path. The event underscores the value of vocational learning and recognises the invaluable contributions of apprentices and trainees throughout Australia.

Join us in recognising National Skills Week, by participating in the week’s activities and events from August 21 to 27. Together, we can showcase the significance of vocational learning while inspiring the next generation of skilled professionals within the retail sector and beyond.

A glimpse into the future of retail

Envision a day in the life of a forward-looking consumer – ensconced in the comfort of their cherished lounge chair, poised to embark on a global shopping odyssey. With a digital wallet brimming with cryptocurrency, they don their Virtual Reality headset, instantly transporting themselves into the hallowed halls of a Milanese fashion emporium.

Here, an adept sales avatar emerges, engaging in a seamless dialogue. This digital attendant, well-versed in the nuances of the consumer’s preferences, shipping particulars, recent three-year transactions, and even intimate details like body measurements and fabric sensitivities, is poised to cater to their every whim as summer beckons.

Swiftly, a symphony of payments, shipping logistics, loyalty rewards, product comparisons, and considerations of economic, social, and governance facets unfurls in perfect synchrony. The virtual dressing room experience materialises effortlessly, complete with clothing ensembles being tried on, shoes meticulously matched, and with a mere blink and nod, the transaction proceeds, culminating in a swift delivery to the doorstep.

When contemplating the landscape of retail skills, the usual suspects are customer service, tailored experiences, problem-solving, clear communication, sales strategies, captivating marketing campaigns, and artful visual merchandising. These are undeniably pivotal competencies destined to maintain their significance in retail. However, these competencies presuppose a retail world confined to brick-and-mortar constructs. The virtual reality vignette painted earlier is not an inconceivable abstraction; it now resides tantalisingly close to our imaginative grasp.

The new skills required

So, what skills must the retailers of tomorrow possess? The future domain is intricately interwoven with technology. Data science and behavioural insights, harnessed through coding expertise, and underpinned by the tapestry of neuroscience, form an essential backdrop. Expertise in media communications becomes a pivot for shaping perceptions and generating trust. Platforms grounded in Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and predictive technologies emerge as bedrock elements. The art of mapping applications, complemented by drone and aeronautical design proficiency, unveils novel possibilities for retail spatial design.

The link between retail and technology

In this redefined landscape, it becomes increasingly apparent that technology creates retail, and conversely, retail breathes life into technology. Traditionally, retail has been met with scepticism by parents whose children consider it a career, possibly attributed to its transient nature. Yet, consider the striking ascent of Amazon, poised to clinch the title of Australia’s leading retailer platform, based on customer traction, by the close of 2023. Remarkably, this metamorphosis transpired a mere six years after Amazon’s unassuming inception on Australian shores in 2017. Should parental concerns be as pronounced if their children aspired to a career as a coder at Amazon?

The metamorphosis of retail is happening at a pace both extraordinary and exhilarating, accompanied by an expansive vista of new career opportunities.

New career opportunities emerge

In the ever-evolving story of retail, a new age dawns, demanding a combination of traditional competencies and technological expertise. Moving beyond the confines of physicality, this reimagined retail world beckons forth those equipped with the new skills and knowledge to navigate its complex environment. As the chapter unfolds, the spotlight pivots from brick-and-mortar shops to the digital tapestry woven meticulously by savvy retailers. The future of retail provides a compelling mix of talent and innovation, presenting unprecedented opportunities for those prepared to venture into this brave new world.

Stay ahead and upskill your team today

Retail caters to all sorts of interests and passions – whether you love fashion, sport, beauty or technology. Beyond serving customers, there are creative roles in retail across branding, marketing and visual merchandising as well as positions in buying and supply chains; data and digital roles, sustainability plus plenty more. Vocational training plays a pivotal role in growing the skills and capability of our industry.

To find out more, visit the ARA Retail Institute



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