SEEK Employment Trends New Zealand: spotlight on the retail and consumer products industry

Big data has been a game changer for the retail industry. From predicting trends to identifying potential customers and preparing for periods of demand, data is helping retailers improve their customers’ shopping experience and boost their own bottom lines.

The value of retail data in New Zealand was highlighted in the latest results from SEEK Employment Trends. The retail and consumer products industry saw a 6% year-on-year increase in SEEK job ads. Planning roles, which tend to focus on data analysis, appeared to be in hottest demand. Job ads for this classification doubled year-on-year.

Trish McLean, group CEO of Retailworld Resourcing, says planning roles have become crucial to New Zealand’s retail industry. “If you plan right, you’ll buy right and you’ll sell the right amount at a high margin and then you’ll reduce the margin to clear out the stock at the end.”

Challenges in planning

Matt Bartlett, recruitment manager at The Warehouse Group, which includes iconic New Zealand brands such as The Warehouse, Noel Leeming, Warehouse Stationery and Torpedo 7, says finding the right talent for planning roles can be a challenge. The group opened its first The Warehouse store in 1982, long before e-commerce and big data had asserted their influence on the industry. Today, the company sees data as a valuable tool for improving customer retail experiences and planning roles are important in achieving this.

“You can sum up the planning role pretty simply,” says Bartlett. “They do the analysis to make sure you have the right product in the right place at the right time and at the right price,” he says. “Not a lot of retailers have that function – it’s generally either built in to other roles or it doesn’t exist at all. It’s relatively niche in New Zealand. As a result, it’s a pretty small talent pool to recruit from.”

While job ads for planning roles were up, retail buying roles on SEEK were down by 16% year-on-year. McLean says this may be due to changes in buying functions within the industry. “Many brands now have a design team and a planning team, so the buying function has split,” she explains. “This is reflected in your increased demand for planners.”

Meanwhile, job ads for retail assistants saw a year-on-year increase of 2% and merchandiser roles were up by 40% compared to the same time last year. “This is consistently a really challenging space to recruit in,” says McLean. “If you don’t have your merchandise right, you’re in trouble as a retailer.”

While job ads for merchandisers went up, ads for management – department assistant roles went down by 16% year-on-year. McLean explains that this may be due to fewer large retailers in the country. “There are less big box retailers in New Zealand, so these roles are generally advertised as store manager to attract the right candidates. The actual role may be the department manager.”


Retail goes omni-channel

E-commerce has shaken up the retail industry. While many retailers struggled to adapt their model to digital environments, smart retailers today are extending their reach to mobile stores, online shops and apps.

“There’s been a lot of talk about e-commerce having an impact on the retail space but we are seeing a lot of online stores opening traditional shops now,” says McLean.

The Warehouse Group’s adventure sports retail brand, Torpedo 7, is a good example. “We bought the brand during our growth phase a couple of years ago, when they were just an online retailer and now they have bricks-and-mortar stores,” says Bartlett.

Despite the renewed interest in bricks-and-mortar retailing, McLean says demand for online roles is solid. “We are getting a lot of feedback from retailers that online fulfillment, online managers, and positions around website management and content management are becoming a whole new employment category with new resources being added rapidly as the percentage of business grows. These are jobs that didn't exist five years ago even.”



Trends across the regions

Auckland’s retail and consumer products industry saw a year-on-year increase in job ads of 13% and ads in the Bay of Plenty were up by 42%. Canterbury experienced a decline of 10%, while job ads in Wellington increased by 2%. The average advertised salary for the sector across the country was $50,870.

McLean expects more movement in the industry in the months ahead.New Zealand has some big brands arriving,” she says. “David Jones is coming in to Wellington, Top Shop came in a while ago and is expanding its footprint. H&M are coming in to Auckland. I think employers need to think about their employment proposition and where their brand fits in the market, especially if their brand is not the number one in its space.”



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