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Retail stores look for news landscapes to reopen.

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While no industry is exempt from the labor shortage, retailers, and quick-service restaurants are seeing staff turnover and staffing shortages more than anywhere else. If the pandemic–accelerated pace of industry innovation continues, perhaps an automated future will be our reality, one in which digital technology and automation replace the need for the human experience at retail.

However, we know from recent consumer research that that reality is not today. In fact, our research revealed that employees have the most impact on the consumer’s brand experience, more than any other experience attribute. But during a labor shortage, there are no employees to be found, causing devastating effects on service and consumer brand perception. The future design of stores must be more holistic and factor in the experiential needs of employees, not just customers, to be successful going forward.

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