With mass closures throughout 2020 and 2021 resulting in a reduction of the footfall of nearly 50% at its peak, the UK’s retail sector has never before experienced a more challenging 18 months. The challenges, however, are by no means over for retailers, with the lifting of restrictions in July not yet translating into a return to normality for shoppers. In fact, figures from September 2021 show that footfall is still 17.4% down on its 2019 level.

38%

of Brits unveiled that they found
online shopping methods inefficient
and inadequate for their needs

To counter consumer reticence, the retail arena is in desperate need of an evolution that responds at scale to the shopping habits that have permanently transformed in the wake of the pandemic. In a recent study we commissioned on the state of UK retail, we discovered that 39% of Brits said that they would never be comfortable going back to shops and supermarkets unless permanent measures are put in place. Despite this, 38% of Brits also unveiled that they found online shopping methods inefficient and inadequate for their needs.

This demonstrates an under-serviced portion of the British population that still values the physical retail experience. Whereas in days gone by, it was the norm for British retail to be buoyed by bustling high streets and mass consumer footfall, this now presents the very deterrent for the British public for instilling their faith in retailers, further highlighting the exact challenge that must be responded to.

The most ubiquitous elements of lockdown life, such as social distancing, caution of physical touch points and the impacts upon mental health, have all contributed to the notion that the survival of the physical retail experience is contingent upon the technology that allays such concerns. Across the length and breadth of the British Isles, businesses have adopted a technological transformation that would usually occur over a decade, in a matter of months. In one of the worst-hit sectors of the British economy, the digital bank Dojo found that 95% of all hospitality venues sought to integrate technology into their service offering as a direct result of the pandemic.

95%

of all hospitality venues were seeking to integrate technology into their service offering as a direct result of the pandemic

The importance of digital transformation

Between the universal effects of the enforced closure of retail and the apparent reticence of a large number of shoppers to return to physical stores in the same way as before, it is clear that retailers will require support to adapt to a new world of retail.

Digital transformation and the creation of app-based services and resources look set to play a crucial role in staying ahead of the competition while keeping customers safe and happy. This also applies to creating websites, web platforms and bringing older, legacy systems up to the present day. Each of these challenges require resource and expertise that many businesses lack and can often ill-afford.

Digital transformation has become a business-critical issue, especially in the retail sector, that much is clear. There are, however, several problems that even the businesses most willing to adapt are set to face in creating a new retail environment.

11,000

open vacancies for Software
Engineers in the UK, making
it the second-most sought
after job in the country

At the heart of keystone changes lies the issue of sourcing talent. In the wake of the pandemic, much like other neighbouring nations, the UK is experiencing a trend known as the “Great Resignation”. An en-masse revaluation of career choices and job satisfaction has left the jobs market open with over a million vacancies. According to Glassdoor, as of October 2021, there were over 11,000 available vacancies for Software Engineers in the UK, making it the second-most sought after job in the country. With such a scarcity of applicants, many businesses looking to transform themselves digitally are left at the mercy of the competition of the post-Covid jobs market.

Whether it be a shortage of programmers or the lack of expertise in app creation, finding the talent needed, in the sort of time frame that remains useful to the business, can be extremely difficult. The average time it takes to fill a position through traditional methods of recruitment is around 63 days and in a time where the pace of change has been supercharged, this is too long for many firms to wait.

The options available to businesses

Cost and speed of delivery are two of the most crucial aspects of any project and often sit at opposite ends of the spectrum where fast delivery results in high costs or vice versa. This sits totally at odds with the needs of a business that requires a swift and effective solution at a cost that won’t create more problems than it solves.

One of the key cost drivers for any period of growth is recruitment. These costs can spiral into the tens of thousands with little guarantee of long-term success, making it harder for companies to expand their talent base or venture into new areas of capability, especially in a short period of time.

A solution to this issue is team augmentation, whereby an in-house team is enhanced by adding specialist members from outside the organisation. This setup allows the business to maintain control and visibility while adding the key skills and knowledge needed to make rapid progress. Find out more about the benefits of team augmentation for businesses here.

Team Augmentation at DCSL GuideSmiths

Team augmentation is the result of years of hard work to become both a market leader in software development and a destination company for talented developers. Through this combination, we can offer access to essential talent when our clients need it.

We’ve helped numerous companies expand and build development teams quickly and with a significant reduction of cost. This is because we specialise in sourcing software developers with a specific skillset on either a short-term or long-term basis with a perfect fit between project progress and cost-effectiveness. Get in touch with us today to discuss how we can enhance your team.