The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept through the world left many businesses struggling to regain their footing. One such industry that is still reeling from the devastating economical effects of the Coronavirus is retail. Brick and mortar locations are suffering from a lack of sales across the board while online shopping is experiencing a boost in sales.

Senior-managers and executives in retail that aren’t able to quickly adapt to new technologies and challenges can quickly fall by the wayside, potentially dragging the business down with them. This is why many established organisations and leading businesses turn to retained search firms that specialise in consumer and retail executive search.

Their executive headhunters will have in-depth experience within the retail industry. This allows them to know what exact key traits, skills and other factors to identify when sourcing top-performing talent for executive, C-suite and senior-management positions within the retail industry.

The right executive candidate will need to understand and prepare for the roll-out of new technologies, how to integrate them and how to re-shape their teams accordingly. However, retail management also requires highly developed emotional and social skills as well.

So, with all this in mind, what exactly do executive headhunters search for when sourcing executive talent for senior retail positions?

Effective category management

Traditionally, grocery goods and FMCG (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods) have always been much more effective when it comes to category management. However, the time has come for retail segments such as fashion to catch up. This requires senior managers and executives to have the ability to effectively analyse, divide, price and plan categories with much more discipline and sophistication.

Neglecting or failing to divest shrinking categories or expand into new growth categories has led to the lack of diversification needed to evolve and grow with the ever-changing patterns in consumption. Along with strong creativity and critical thinking, embracing technology will greatly assist in ensuring much more effective category management.

Possesses technology literacy

Having sound technology literacy and an understanding of technology solutions which will boost productivity and efficiency is an obvious yet crucial trait for senior-level management in retail. Analytics is one area in particular that will benefit greatly from embracing technology.

Retail planners and merchants would spend a large amount of time on scenario planning, whereas introducing automation processes can greatly reduce the amount of time required. This enables them to have more time to plan and develop more thought-out decisions and assist in other value-adding areas.

High level of empathy

When it comes to retail executive search, one of the most important personality traits is a high level of empathy. Along with high emotional intelligence, having the ability to listen and deeply understand the needs of stakeholders is not only highly desired but also vital. This is also crucial from the viewpoint of team members and other employees.

Customers are also starting to expect a higher level of empathy from the brands they buy from. As more personalisation online continues to increase, customers expect to experience a similar level of personalisation as if they were shopping in the retail store itself.

Empathy is vital to ensuring that each team member’s voice is heard and that they feel that their needs are always being considered by their team leader or manager. Negative personality traits such as narcissism and high levels of disagreeableness in retail leaders can result in a drop in productivity and motivation in team members.

Has a growth mindset

Skills such as adaptability and agility are crucial when working in the retail industry. It is the most change-intensive industry, creating and delivering a vast quantity of various SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) each month. However, many retailers within the industry have demonstrated a very fixed mindset.

For example, the retail industry took a surprisingly long time to embrace and incorporate online as part of their channel mix plan, whereas industries such as marketing were quick to embrace new technologies.

With more new businesses that are born digital and highly focused on continuous innovation, this is why executive-level and C-suite positions in retail management require talent that has a growth mindset.

Reading the data

Retail leaders also need to understand what type of data can be analysed to develop new types of insights. This is why executives and managers working across areas of the business such as sales, product merchandising and marketing need to learn to partner with analysts and data engineers. By knowing how to extract the crucial nuggets of information, they can better plan and create a competitive advantage for the business.

In summary

These are just some of the important skills and traits headhunters search for when it comes to consumer and retail executive search. This is why so many decision-makers throughout every industry turn to executive search firms to ensure that only the most top-performing talent is presented when hiring a new C-suite, executive or senior manager.

Author's Bio: 

I have zeal to pen down my thoughts when it comes to writing. When not working, either I am glued to my playlist, Netflix, books or you can find me splurging on myself.