Staffing Shortages Can Have a Greater Impact on Small Businesses

When facing unprecedented and challenging market disruptions, forward-thinking small business owners turn to technology to maximize productivity and profits. What's more, investments in the right technology can elevate the overall shopper experience, even when there is less staff on hand.

The role of the physical store is evolving, but it is still critical to the customer experience. According to NRF data, 80% of shopping still happens in stores. Yet, according to shopper feedback in Zebra's latest Global Shopper Study, only six-in-10 shoppers are satisfied with how well-equipped associates are to help them find items.


Only 70% are happy with the availability of staff in the stores or the level of information and help staff provides. That's concerning considering how significantly labor shortages continue to impact retailers. Whether the workforce's limitation is due to illness or staff departures or the impact of fewer associates on store floors and back rooms. It can adversely affect the business, primarily when technology is not used to augment headcount or the customer experience.


For a large retailer, the consequences of being short-staffed may be minimal, limited to shifting employees from the backroom to the front of the store for a few hours. However, the impact can be devastating for small businesses and potentially hurt their bottom line. For example, a few employee callouts may result in zero staff availability — and a complete store closure — for an entire day.


Customers shop elsewhere when met with the "Be Back Later" sign, potentially challenging their long-term loyalty. Forward-thinking small retailers should make more significant investments in technology. Hence managing staff schedules and rebalancing workloads is more effortless when teams are lean and foot traffic is high.


Integrating solutions to make customers more self-sufficient in the store would be precious when only one or two associates are available to work each shift.