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How to Capitalize on the Death of Retail

March 15th, 2018
by Kevin Harris

The last U.S. Presidential race placed a bright spotlight on industries where jobs are being lost and large groups of previously well-employed individuals have become increasingly displaced in the modern economy.

Store ClosingAnd while many of those hot-button debates centered around industrial revolution casualties (i.e. coal mining), in 2017 the world of retail continued its own massive downward job descent. Long-time retail stalwarts such as J.C. Penny, Sears and Macy’s all announced bankruptcy filings last year. Despite the U.S. adding 2 million jobs in 2017, the retail industry experienced a net loss of over 66,000 jobs.

Those types of losses are usually consistent with an economy that is in a recession. But the U.S. economy continued to grow last year – GDP has gone up for eight straight years, gas prices and unemployment remain low and wages have risen.

So, what is causing the death of retail? Technology has fundamentally changed the way we buy things.

As technologies continue to evolve and expedite the consumer retail shopping experience, the need for plentiful brick-and-mortar retail locations (and the jobs the come with them) will continue to dissipate.

If you’re one of the tens of thousands of people displaced by the retail apocalypse or if you have been considering a post-collegiate career in the retail industry, you should strongly consider a career with a vastly brighter future: high-tech sales.

Here are a few key reasons why a career in high-tech sales will blow away a career in the retail space. Don’t get left in the discarded aftermath of a defunct career path – the time has never been better to jump in to tech sales.

While Retail Shrinks, the Tech Space Is Booming

Not only has technology shifted the way people buy retail products, but the U.S. has been perhaps the slowest developed country to adjust and is vastly “over-retailed” right now. What does that mean?

Check out the chart below – which compares the amount of retail square footage per capita by country:

US Over Retailed

Source: ICSC Country Fact Sheets

As a report from Cohen and Steers indicates:

“The U.S. is ‘over-retailed’ with 24 square feet of retail space per capita—one half more than Canada and nearly five times the square footage per person in the U.K.”

The same report goes on to highlight the double-digit growth rates the mobile and ecommerce industry are experiencing as companies continue shifting to an omni-channel approach for retail sales. This doesn’t mean consumers are buying fewer retail products overall, but it does mean that the jobs and careers that came along with the old paradigm for retail buying in a physical location are drying up fast. And those jobs were more than just seasonal or low-paying roles – entire layers of retail management, including well-educated career professionals, are experiencing the same displacement.

On the other side of the spectrum sits the technology industry with specific high-growth job areas such as information security, data storage and cloud computing. Let these numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics sink in:

      • Between 2016 to 2026, computer and information technology occupations are expected to grow by a full 13% – which is a faster projected growth rate than any other sector the bureau analyzes.
      • The sector is expected to add over 500,000 new jobs to the economy in that time and the average median annual salary for these roles is over $82,000 – significantly higher than the $37,040 average median annual salary for all other jobs.

That type of growth is a job-seekers dream. It means opportunity and upward mobility. And with that level of growth in the tech space, tech sales job opportunities will rise right along with it.

Follow the Money

In economics, the Scarcity Principle is the idea that the limited supply of an item, coupled with a high demand for that same item, will lead to increased prices. This makes sense on a basic level – if there’s not a lot of something available, and everyone wants it, the cost to acquire it will be high.

In parallel, if something appears in abundance and demand for that item is not high, it will drive prices down and make that item relatively cheap to acquire.

These same ideas apply to jobs and job markets.

The constriction of retail industry jobs continues to displace retail workers and create an abundance of these individuals in the job-seeking marketplace. The employers with retail job openings that remain have their pick of a large pool of applicants and can afford to do two things to these workers as a result (neither of which is very appealing):

  1. Offer them reduced compensation for the open roles (after all, a host of other qualified applicants are waiting in the wings for the same job).
  2. Ask much more of the worker in terms of the tasks expected to be completed once in the role. (This article from Business Insider highlights a few examples of this stark new reality.)

Put simply, the death of retail means the jobs that remain are tougher to work and offer less compensation as a reward for those increased demands.

Seeing the other side of this equation when it comes to the high-tech space (and tech sales) is an easy task. The prior section highlighted the expected overall growth in tech over the next several years. That growth means a great deal of companies emerging and competing with one another in each of the major tech industries.

This creates a great deal of open jobs that pay well – especially high-tech sales jobs (after all, companies don’t exist for long unless they are generating revenue). High-tech sales pros that have developed strong fundamental sales skills and fluency in any of these booming tech sectors will see plentiful job opportunities and skyrocketing compensation for their services.

Get Started Right Now

There’s never been a better time than right now to launch your career in high-tech sales. Opportunities exist in every space and the individuals that grow a sales expertise in any of these spaces can cash in quickly.

The critical factor to consider (if you’re just starting out in professional sales) is how to select the best way to get your start. If you choose an entry-level sales role with a specific tech company, you’ll probably become a decent source of knowledge around their product (and their space, to some extent). However, you will run the risk of becoming too specialized too soon, while placing a bet (so to speak) on a firm that may not have what it takes to survive long-term. Or, worse yet, the company might lack the resources and ability to give you competent, fundamental sales training – which needs to be a top focus early in your career.

The better option is to find a firm that offers you that sales-specific training, knowledge and coaching. This will ensure you develop and fine-tune the professional selling skills that will set you apart from other individuals while setting you up for long-term career success.

How can you find these firms? Here’s a good article on that very subject that we published not too long ago.

And no matter what route your path into high-tech sales takes, betting on that career path over a dead-end job future in the retail space is a move you will never regret.

To learn more about how memoryBlue has helped hundreds of early-stage job-seekers get a high-tech sales career launched, visit our Careers section online now.

Inside Sales Stats, Sales Career Advice, Sales Job Search Advice

Kevin Harris

About the Author: Kevin Harris is the Director of Marketing at memoryBlue. A seasoned professional with over 19 years of experience in public relations, marketing and content management, Kevin oversees all major internal and external communications programs for the firm. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from James Madison University.


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