“Hotlanta” is a Hotbed for Retail Technology

Just because you value job security doesn’t mean you have to settle for a routine job: You can have longevity and the opportunity to work on cutting-edge projects if you pursue a career in Atlanta’s red hot retail technology sector.

“Most retailers view technological advancements as the key to survival,” explained Barbara Jones, founder and CEO of Lillii RNB and board member of the Technology Association of Georgia’s Retail Society. “Best of all, retail touches everything, so there are endless opportunities to make an impact.”

Atlanta is home to numerous hardware and software providers, retail headquarters, consulting firms and systems integrators (and some startups, as well). Here’s a look at the in-demand specialties, and some additional reasons why you might want to consider a career in retail technology.

Data Analytics

The global retail analytics market is predicted to grow more than 20 percent between 2016 and 2020, largely thanks to the introduction of new predictive tools. However, you don’t necessarily need an advanced degree to break into this burgeoning field.

“Retailers have all the data they need to get out of the current slump,” Jones said. “What’s holding them back is that they can’t find enough data scientists or data engineers to interpret the data and draw actionable insights.”

Under the circumstances, many retailers are willing to consider professionals with good math skills or an analytical mindset, even if they don’t have the right combination of degrees. If you don’t have a computer science background, completing a course in retail analytics can boost your appeal.

If you have an associate’s degree in math or statistics, become an assistant or start out in operations, and work your way up through the ranks. While career advancement is hard in many industries, retail can prove the exception.

AR/VR Development

If you’d like to start integrating AR functionality into your mobile apps or become familiar with the latest platforms and tools, there’s no need to wait for an opportunity.

Leading-edge retailers are already letting shoppers try on shirts, sample make-up or see how furniture looks in their homes without making the trek to the store. (Here are some examples of AR in retail). Retailers’ early forays into AR are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. According to one study, retail enterprise usage of VR/AR software will represent a $1.6 billion expenditure in 2025.

Point-of-Sale Technology

If the thought of developing point-of-sale (POS) software sounds dull, you should know that these systems are evolving rapidly to handle a rash of security threats (and meet the rising expectations of consumers).

For instance, POS terminals are becoming full-service solutions that can handle multiple channels via the cloud. The future of POS will not only include mobile capabilities, but biometrics and digital product-tracking, among other things.

“The change to credit and debit chip cards has required a huge amount of work and there’s a nationwide shortage of developers who have experience with the newest versions of POS software,” noted Ron Kindland, managing partner with Verity Professionals, an Atlanta recruiting firm that specializes in placing technology professionals in the retail industry. “To meet the demand, many firms allow part-time telecommuting.”

Transitioning into POS is fairly easy. Developers who already know Java or C# can get up to speed in four to six few weeks by taking one of many training courses offered by POS vendors, systems integrators and some staffing firms. Beginners can also start out in QA testing and work their way up, Kindland added.

E-Commerce

Whether you’re a recent graduate or a seasoned professional who likes to push the envelope, retail e-commerce has a lot to offer. Many brick-and-mortar retailers are still creating their ecommerce platforms and strategies, and online sales are projected to account for 17 percent of all retail sales within the next five years, according to Forrester Research.

David Foote, chief analyst of Foote Partners LLC, recently predicted that UX/UI designers with e-commerce experience, as well as tech pros with user acceptance testing (UAT) experience, will be in high demand over the next two years. But there’s also a hunger for professionals who know how to create web pages or websites. Retailers often look for experience with CSS, JavaScript, JQuery and APIs; learning HTML5 can likewise help you launch a career in ecommerce.

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