“Ask L2” is a weekly series where we answer questions about all things digital.

Question: What tools can help retailers fight Amazon’s domination?

Brands are losing the war for talent to digitally native technology companies—experiencing an uphill battle to build a digitally deft workforce. Unfortunately for brands, top digital talent flows between companies like Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google while brands look on from the sidelines. It is no surprise that top talent finds these companies attractive; they have revolutionized the workplace environment, and have earned a certain cachet as the new coveted employers. Google, for example, has been ranked number one on Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work” for seven times. However, while brands have a notoriously difficult time recruiting talent from these tech companies, a few methods have proven successful:

Proximity to Tech Hubs: Walmart, whose recent acquisition of Jet.com signals its focus on an omnichannel self-reinvention, leads the way. Opening a San Bruno, California, location has helped the retailer recruit more than 300 workers from the Big Four—including 218 from its biggest rival, Amazon.

walmart-nike-macysTargeting Specific Firms: Rather than target expensive tech talent directly, Nike has hired several staff recruiters from Apple and used them to recruit product managers and leading store personnel who can deliver next-generation retail experiences. In a similar fashion, Kimberly-Clark has targeted Amazon, poaching e-commerce leaders who, in turn, have helped the company pull in additional talent. In fact, six percent of Kimberly-Clark’s e-commerce team comes from Amazon. And an impressive 46 percent of the Amazon employees they have recruited have arrived with at least 10 years of experience.


Executive Access: There is also a pattern of brands successfully recruiting from digitally native companies by offering positions on the senior leadership team—something they cannot get at a Facebook or a Google. L’Oréal, for example, managed to recruit a chief digital officer from Instagram by offering a seat on the executive committee.


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