The talent recruitment process of every industry is unique, and the retail sector is undoubtedly one of the more interesting ones. The retail sector, ranging from FMCG to high-end fashion, requires a diverse set of skills to keep it functioning. Therefore, it depends more on qualified employees who can assist the customers, manage the business, respond to customers’ grievances, manage the supply chain, logistics and more.
Additionally, given the new shopping trends seen during the pandemic, the retail sector explores a hybrid or entirely online model, which requires reskilling the current workforce and engaging people with additional skills.
The roles in retail have been evolving over the last few years. On the front-end, the shopping culture in India has evolved from individual, stand-alone stores to huge malls. Shopping, for the consumer today, is an entire experience, requiring the relevant skill sets.
Retail companies are upgrading the technology to cater to the new normal, hybrid models on the back-end. The companies are also enhancing their supply chains to prevent further disruptions due to pandemics or other reasons.
This requires a complete realignment of the workforce. Recruiters have to analyse candidates beyond technical skills. While Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been used for recruitment for the last several years at a rudimentary level in the industry, Emotion AI will soon be deployed – enhancing the process.
What is Emotion AI
Emotion AI is a subset of artificial intelligence that can understand, measure, simulate and react to human emotions. Thus, it is also known as affective computing or artificial emotional intelligence. It detects emotions using artificial intelligence; systems or machines with this kind of emotional intelligence can understand human communication’s cognitive and emotive channels. That enables them to detect, interpret and respond appropriately to bother verbal and non-verbal signals.
Current Challenges in Recruitment
It is no longer sufficient to have the necessary technical skills today. Increasingly, companies prefer to hire candidates with soft skills such as good communication, creativity, and innovation.
The retail sector, in particular, requires a good combination of soft skills and technical skills. Supermarkets, malls, and shopping centres require workers at very different hours of the day, thus creating a demand for adjustable labour to store managers’ needs. The sector also recruits in high volumes, particularly for short-term, seasonal roles. The skill sets needed for these roles, however, are only increasing.
Countless person-hours are wasted in merely ascertaining the availability of candidates for the role. Recruiters also spend a considerable amount of time filtering the available candidates’ list as the roles evolve.
Additionally, as ‘shopping’ moves to the computer screen and ‘personalised shoppers’ become the norm in India – the workforce also needs to adapt accordingly.
A Solution to Bridge the Gap: Emotion AI
AI has been an effective tool to address some of the issues mentioned above. AI-enabled chatbots help in quicker and more efficient filtering of candidates. AI can also help reach out to candidates for faster communication, setting up interviews and sending out other communications.
However, Emotion AI enhances the process much more effectively.
For instance, video interviews have become the norm over the last few years. A candidate shares an introductory video for the screening round. Or the entire interview with the recruiter is recorded for further assessment.
Emotion AI is then deployed to ‘assess’ these videos and list the attributes of the candidate. The AI bot can discern more details based on micro facial cues, voice patterns, tonality and emotions of the candidate in the video. These are broken into easily consumable ‘facts’ by the bot and shared with the recruiter for further assessment.
Emotion AI-based tools can help save time for the recruiter and help map suitable candidates to the appropriate positions, ensuring the best fit for a particular role. The technology can detect behavioural patterns that might not be suitable for a specific function or company. It also helps avoid human bias, which is crucial for roles in retail.
Lastly, Emotion AI shares accurate data, figures and patterns, allowing recruiters to understand trends and implement changes as needed.
Emotion AI will become a crucial tool in retail recruitment as the roles evolve in the sector. Personalised shoppers, customised experiences will need a better match of skill sets, personalities and knowledge to the company and the shopper.
However, the implementation of the technology does rest on the data it is fed – and this is where we need to build a robust ecosystem of accurate information, unbiased data provided to the AI.
In the long run, Emotion AI can save countless hours to the recruiter and ensure a better fit for the role, thereby ensuring employee satisfaction.
The author is Group CEO, FirstMeridian Business Services Pvt. Ltd