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7 Strategies to Speed Up Retail Recruitment in China

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China has eclipsed the US as the largest retail market in the world, which is great news for Chinese retailers. From high-end brands such as Prada to high-street favorites like H&M, retailers are rapidly expanding their footprint all over the country, looking to meet demand and reach millions of new customers.

And yet, this exponential growth is also presenting significant new challenges for those responsible for retail recruiting in China. Not only are the number of people entering the workforce declining while minimum wage increases, but labor-intensive positions are becoming increasingly hard to fill. The reality is, in China’s volatile, candidate-driven market, the task of retail store recruitment is a tough one.

Not to fear! We are here today to provide you with seven highly effective strategies for combating high turnover and winning the war for retail employees. Let’s dive in.

1. Leverage WeChat to Generate Strong Candidate Leads

While some brands are already using WeChat as a recruiting tool, most are utilizing the channel to drive customer engagement. Of those who are using the platform to convert customers and followers into candidates, few are offering truly original content that showcases their employer brand. 

In a saturated market, if you really want to take advantage of this channel as part of your retail hiring strategy, you must differentiate and accentuate your company’s Employer Value Proposition:

  • Focus on developing topics that resonate with target candidates
  • Make your content highly visual
  • Don’t copy the GIFs and memes everyone is using
  • Ensure your call-to-action is clear and powerful
  • Achieve maximum reach by incentivizing your colleagues to share content

Thanks to Avature’s integration with WeChat, you can offer candidates the option of applying to jobs using their WeChat profiles.

2. Ensure Your Retail Hiring Processes are Frictionless

Convenience has become a key trait of all things retail in China. 

If you’re doing it right, customers should not only be accustomed to a friction-free experience when it comes to transactions, but they should consider your brand a partner that helps with daily living (Alibaba’s purchase of the Hema supermarket chain is a great example).

In this context, when you’re looking to quickly fill in-store vacancies with top talent, designing a frictionless application process is crucial

Candidates are likely to associate your brand with a seamless experience, and, if that’s not what they get when they apply for a job, it’ll put them off straight away. In addition to a frictionless hiring experience, you should look to tailor and personalize the application process based on a candidate’s location or the position they’re applying for. This will help to further nurture candidate relationships over both the short and long-term

3. Build Robust Talent Pools 

For the majority of non-managerial positions, store managers tend to rely on RPOs to fill vacancies. And yet, talent acquisition teams are frequently under pressure to source and hire senior candidates within very short timeframes. This is a tough task that can’t be avoided as Chinese retailers continue to grow at such a rapid pace. 

So what can you do to meet these hiring demands quickly and backfill at speed?

Investing in technology that facilitates the creation of talent pipelines and pools is a great way to win the race for talent in retail hiring. Ready access to pre-identified individuals drastically improves a recruiter’s ability to fill multiple positions simultaneously against the clock. It’s also much more efficient than the excel spreadsheets that decentralized hiring models traditionally rely on.

With a retail-specific platform, such as Avature In-Store, you can identify potential candidates and keep them warm before a specific role opens up. For example, you can set up automated email campaigns that deliver timely company news or industry trends. As soon as a vacancy opens, you can reach out to someone in your existing talent pipeline instead of having to start the search from scratch.

4. Focus on Internal Talent

You’re probably already reliant on internal mobility to cover vacancies as you roll out new stores across China. Moving existing Store Managers to a brand new location minimizes risk and helps tackle turnover. As your employees already have a strong understanding of your processes and brand, they can be trusted to implement them again.

With a roadmap in place for upcoming store openings, there are many benefits to introducing an internal mobility program for retail recruitment and selection in China. 

With a robust talent mobility program, you can offer top managers the opportunity to move around the business in a more structured way, which can help with both organizational planning and professional development. This kind of program can also help increase loyalty and reduce turnover. After all, internal mobility is a way to provide employees with up-skilling opportunities and new challenges.

5. Develop  a Location-Based Approach to Retail Recruitment 

When looking to implement an optimized recruiting solution across your business in China, it’s important to take into account the nuances in customs or processes in different locations. While this exercise is something that comes naturally to the marketing and sales teams, the same approach isn’t always considered when it comes to recruiting.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, retailers across the country regularly implement localized go-to-market strategies at the cluster or city tier level. This practical approach allows them to better align resources with population size and wealth. As a result, tier-one cities tend to have bigger flagship-style stores. Naturally, organizations will face different recruiting challenges across different locations.

Forward-thinking talent acquisition teams should consider how to localize retail recruitment processes in order to better connect with potential candidates. In order to do so in the most cost-effective and efficient manner, you should invest in one central technology that can be configured to meet the recruiting needs of each location.

6. Harness the Power of Modern Technology

In addition to talent pools, there are a number of widely adopted technologies that retail recruiters can take advantage of when sourcing and hiring candidates across China.

First, job board apps can fast-forward your efforts to fill vacancies when faced with a new store opening. A great example is Boss Zhipin, which efficiently matches job seekers and recruiters based on their preferences and behavior using advanced data technology. It allows you to chat directly to potential candidates via instant message and constantly optimizes its algorithm by learning user behavior.

Another great tool to take advantage of are QR codes. With QR code adoption so high across China, you can easily leverage them to efficiently capture walk-in applicants. There are many other mediums in which QR codes can be deployed to source candidates, including newspaper or magazine ads, social media and blogs, billboards, SMS messaging and direct mail (no, direct mail is not dead!).

7. Optimize How You Manage RPOs

As we’ve mentioned, you’re probably heavily relevant on agencies to source high numbers of suitable candidates for more junior roles. With many retailers pursuing an aggressive store rollout strategy, store managers often receive hundreds of emails from RPOs with candidates to review.

This tends to be a time-consuming and inefficient process that requires them to manually analyze and upload resumes from emails. With an agency management solution, such as Avature Agency Management, store managers can visually compare retail candidates in one place at a glance. This rapidly speeds up the hiring process and gives them time back in their day to focus on core business activities.

To Conclude…

Trends suggest that retail recruiting in China will continue to challenge talent acquisition professionals for the near term. By taking into account the tips mentioned in this article, your recruiters will be in a better position to fill in-store vacancies quickly, efficiently and with minimal overhead. For more information on retail recruiting, be sure to check out our comprehensive blog post on the topic.

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