Cutting-edge Technology is Essential for Retail to Thrive

With £321 bn going through UK retailers’ tills each year, the retail sector is clearly a huge business, one worth the combined economy of Portugal and Denmark alone.

16% of employment in the UK is comprised of retailers. Despite this, there are still some misconceptions concerning the wide scope this sector has to offer. In our continuing webinar series we hear from Chris Watters, Strategic Development Manager at Argos, who addresses some of the myths surrounding retail.


As many of the roles are customer-focused, and tend to be part-time, salaries across the sector are, on average, lower. However, as soon as you get into the executive and management roles, salaries are more equal to commercial roles in other industries.

The key is ensuring that once you’re in, you can prove your value. Go in with a salary that equates their expectations, then exceed them.

Chris says: “I’ve had a couple of promotions in the past three years – if you go in at a lower level, learn the basics and prove you can do the job your efforts will be recognised.”

60% of you think retail embraces a long-hours culture

Since the recession, there has been increasing pressure to work longer than 9-to-5 but the hours are not ‘ridiculous’ in comparison to some sectors, specifically finance. Typically, Chris works between 8/9am and 6/7pm. Chris says: “I’ve achieved a good work-life balance and the long hours I’ve put in have been rewarded. Each time you deliver on a project, it’s recognised.”

40% of you think it’s easy to move between companies

Retailers are keen on people who have worked with other retailers, mainly because of the shared knowledge base and transfer of skills within the sector. It’s possible to advance your career by moving companies but there are good opportunities internally too as retailers are keen to hold onto talent.

Chris says: “Once you’re in, there’s the chance to move around a lot as retailers are keen to hold onto talent and keep good people. I’ve done a lot of training and various courses on customer insight, digital retail and process improvement.”

He adds: “Get on the right ship and sort the seating plan afterwards.”

Retailers must keep up with technological advances to stay ahead of the game

Chris disagrees with the common assumption that retail is not at the forefront of technology. Customers’ expectations have moved in line with technological advances and retailers are having to catch up to stay as informed as the customer. Chris says: “They need to be one step ahead, ensuring they deliver what the customer expects, as well as a great service.”

Retailers are also using more data than ever before to understand their customers – the management of this is absolutely critical to retail as we have acquired so much via web and customer interactions. Therefore, more roles in analytics, IT, communications and corporate security are opening up.

Fast paced and innovative

Chris believes this is definitely true, in part to the densely competitive nature and environment of retail.

He advises: “Always have a plan B and C in retail, you can lay your best strategy but aside of your known competitors, there are always new start ups or retailers from overseas trying to sidetrack those plans.”

He adds: “If you enjoy picking up new things quickly this could be a sector for you.”

Leverage your military experience

Ex military guys are relatively rare within retail. “Its important to remember you bring a unique skill-set, especially if you can get your head around the commercial nature of the business.”

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