Retail jobs shifting from sales to tech
- The number of people identifying as retail associates on their LinkedIn profiles has declined 41.4% from 2013 to 2017 — from 198,000 to 116,000, according to a study by LinkedIn.
- Software developer is the fastest growing job in retail, with engineering and information technology jobs growing from 7% to 9%, according to LinkedIn's research. In a list of the "most popular job titles in retail," software developer went from eighth in 2013 to third in 2017.
- Salesperson is still on top of the retail jobs list, but the number of LinkedIn profiles citing that kind of title has declined from 33% in 2013 to 29% in 2017. The No. 2 job is in logistics and operations, which represented 13% in the study in 2017.
The growth of e-commerce is having a dramatic effect on the types of jobs retail employees now occupy. Retail associates — that is, those holding sales-related roles — are in rapid decline while technical skills are being more sought after by merchants shifting their efforts from brick-and-mortar to cyber business opportunities, according to LinkedIn.
For example, the report mentioned the news of how Walmart is closing 63 Sam's Clubs and converting as many as a dozen of them into e-commerce fulfillment centers. This means fewer sales associates, and more technology and distribution jobs. Walgreens has said it is adding 300 tech jobs in the Chicago area, and Home Depot is planning to add more than 1,000 more technology employees this year. But some other reports run counter to the trend reported by LinkedIn. Meijer said it has eliminated 400 in-house IT jobs, Walmart has cut 300 jobs at all levels of its Information Systems Division, while the National Retail Federation reported an increase in retail jobs by "an unusually high 12,900 jobs" from October to November of 2017.
LinkedIn also reported on the new job titles posted by retail associates displaced in the last five years. Administrative employee topped the list, followed by customer service specialist and those who went back to school. Food service professional, operations specialist, logistics specialist, marketing specialist, merchandiser, IT support and corporate trainer rounded out the list.
Another aspect of this trend comes out of a recent analysis of the U.S. Labor Department's December employment report by the Institute for Women's Policy Research which found that women "shouldered the entirety of job losses" in retail from November 2016 to November 2017, while men gained retail jobs. Women's share of all retail trade jobs fell from 50.4% to 49.6% during that time.
The bottom line is the retail landscape is changing fast, and so too is the composition of retailers' workforces. Just like the overall economy, traditional retail jobs are going away while the demand for technology and engineering skill sets is rising.