The consumer sector continues to experience seismic change. The exceptional impact of both the COVID-19 pandemic and, more recently, the conflict in Ukraine create ongoing uncertainty around trading conditions globally.

All this is on top of a long list of challenges that the sector has been struggling with for many years: the impact of digital retail on stores; rising real estate costs; a polarisation between luxury and value propositions; and rapidly changing consumer habits.

In short, retailers will be facing strong headwinds for years to come. As a result, many retailers have been desperately trying to speed up their transformation agendas. However these are hard, really hard, to land well. Only one in three transformations fully deliver.

So how can retailers be more successful (and quicker) at transforming their organisations? A difficult and complex question.

Here at KultraLab we firmly believe it starts and ends with your people. To build a “future fit” retailer you need to be empowered by a “future fit” workforce. However, retail has traditionally struggled in engaging and empowering their employees, and now there is a huge wave of change sweeping across the world of work. If retailers are to be successful in their transformations, they need to now think very differently about their employees. There are fundamental challenges for retailers to grapple with: How do we build purpose and culture in the new world of hybrid working? What are the key capabilities we need for the future workforce? How do we embed these and create real behavioural change right across the whole workforce and at speed? The psychological contract between employers and employees is changing rapidly – retailers need to understand how to react to this.

Together with the WRC, we have interviewed over 200 consumer organisations and over 300 front line colleagues around the world to answer these questions. What we found was a worrying large and growing disconnect between retailers and their employees. But we didn’t just want to highlight problems, we wanted to help provide solutions. We have examined the key business drivers for new skills and behaviours that retailers need to win in this new world. In the report, we also highlight the core DNA blocks that the future consumer workforce needs – the building blocks of skills and behaviours that future retail employees need to have in order to thrive, and to help their employers be successful in this new world of ever-growing uncertainty and high paced change.

I hope that you enjoy the read and look forward to your comments and feedback.