5 Best Practices for Boosting Adoption of New Tech for Retail & Hospitality Employees

Aug 20, 2020 2:30:00 PM

Restaurants | Retail | Employee engagement

When it comes to a successful rollout of a new tool, solution or platform, high employee adoption is number one.

And with all the new platforms for click & collect, virtual queueing and virtual shopping being rolled out post COVID-19, it's never been more important that frontline employees adopt new tech quickly.

High adoption rates signal the success of a deployment project.

Low adoption rates are just the tip of the iceberg of a plethora of deeper and more problematic issues, including:

  • Sunk costs from licenses and deployment fees, which may never be recuperated
  • Falling behind the curve on innovation, which is required to stay afloat in today's retail and hospitality climate
  • Decreases in productivity, lost time on non-digitized tasks and increased likelihood of human error
  • Indifferent and unengaged employees who are now exponentially more skeptical of any future tech deployment projects

It's true that effective change management and driving adoption for frontline employees can be a challenge, more so than in a corporate environment.

But with the right data-driven strategy, rolling out new tech can actually be a unique opportunity to engage and motivate your frontline workforce.

Bahareh 2 FILTER"The number one KPI that retail and hospitality organizations should be monitoring meticulously is adoption. Change management can be challenging, therefore ways to incentivize teams are key when introducing a new tool, not only to launch a solution but continuously throughout the life of the project. Understand what is important for your employees and loop these into incentives to drive adoption."

- Bahareh, Customer Implementation Lead @YOOBIC

Bearing this in mind, here are 5 best practices to boost adoption rates of new tech for frontline employees in the retail and hospitality industries.

1) Engage ALL employees from the start

It's only natural for employees in any industry to turn skeptical when they feel a new way of working has been sprung on them for unclear reasons.

This skepticism grows exponentially for retail and hospitality employees, because there's a bigger disconnect between different levels of the organization that never see each other (e.g. frontline teams and head office).

Because of this disconnect, many employees may feel like the purpose of the new tech is to monitor or micromanage what they're doing.

Not so good for employee empowerment.

The best way to overcome this skepticism is to involve your employees before deployment even happens. Here are some best practices to get started:

  • Get feedback from frontline employees about problems they experience before any new tech comes into the picture, incorporate this feedback into your decision making process, and then communicate this back to employees.

  • Choose groups of frontline employees to involve in the process early on, for example, in the pilot of a new platform, in reviewing the new tech, and then communicate this across the company. Make these groups of employees who have experienced the new tech into ambassadors for it to boost adoption everywhere. 

  • Communicate timelines for rollouts and trainings across your entire network so no one is surprised when the day comes.

  • Actively solicit feedback, good or bad, and make every employee aware of how they can give their feedback. Give concrete examples frequently of how feedback has been implemented or taken into consideration.

2) Create and communicate a compelling story

We all love a good story.

Storytelling has been proven to increase synthesis of oxytocin in listeners, the chemical responsible for willingness to help and cooperate with others. Both of which are key ingredients for a team that welcomes change and adapts to it.

Every good story needs a hero (which should be your frontline teams), a conflict, a resolution and a happily ever after.

If the new tech is the resolution, what was the conflict?

What problems were holding employees back from achieving your mission as a brand?

This is the message that needs to be broadcast into every location.

That's because frontline employees may not even be aware of what these problems are, or they've just accepted them as the status quo.

It's critical to start sharing your story as early on as possible, considering that effective internal communications across hundreds or thousands of locations is a challenge for many retail and hospitality organizations.

Without a compelling story, employees will be indifferent, and indifferent employees have low adoption rates.

A compelling narrative answers all questions employees are bound to have about any kind of change:

  • Why is this change happening?
  • What problems is this change solving?
  • Why do I need to change what I'm doing?
  • How does this impact me?
  • How does this make my day easier?
  • What's in it for me if I make this change?
  • Which of my peers are making this change?
  • Have my managers already made this change?

This last question leads us to our next point.

3) Make sure managers and leadership teams are talking the talk and walking the walk

Retail and hospitality employees look to their direct manager as a blueprint for what they should be doing and where their career could go next.

And when it comes to rollout of new tech, every manager can be your champion of change.

So if a store manager makes a disparaging remark about using the app you want 100% of employees to use, employees will mirror that sentiment.

If an area manager is caught not using the new tool when the managers reporting to her are, expect adoption rates to plummet.

Engage your managers and leadership teams as early on as you can. Make sure they understand the problems new tech will solve and let them know that what they do on a daily basis will determine the short and long-term success of the project. Brief them on questions frontline employees might have and how to troubleshoot any issues.

4) Use fun incentives

Making employees aware of the problems being solved and engaging everyone with a compelling narrative are both effective ways to boost adoption rates, but never underestimate the power of making things fun.

If the answer to "What's in it for me if I make this change?" is winning a prize or getting a shoutout from head office, frontline employees are much more likely to adopt a new tool.

Recognition and reward from your peers is a huge incentive for meaningful and sustainable change.

Gamify your rollout process by incorporating game-playing elements like scoring, badges and leaderboards.

Healthy pet food retailer Tomlinson's Feed used gamification to boost adoption of the YOOBIC platform for their largely Gen Z workforce. 


"A lot of our long-term team members are competitive in a healthy way. So when they were given this tool, and they saw the gamification of it, they just dove right in. I don’t think we have ever rolled out a platform or new tech/system that’s been met with such high praise."

- Kate Knecht, Brand Director @ Tomlinson's Feed


Weekly updates on your internal comms platform ranking most engaged users and teams will go a long way for igniting a little friendly competition that drives more adoption. Bonus points if you make liberal use of emojis.

Recurring challenges like a monthly selfie, craziest team or cutest pet picture contests are a few ways YOOBIC customers give employees fun reasons to use the YOOBIC platform.

5) Keep the momentum going long term

The reason many digital transformations fail is because organizations focus all their attention on the short term and not the long term. Here are a few best practices to help you drive adoption long term: 

  • Identify top adopters and make them your communication champions, giving them a platform to share how they use the new tech and other tips and tricks they might have. Bonus points if your champions have a lot of influence amongst their peers.

  • Decide, before rollout, how often you'll revisit adoption metrics in the days, weeks and months after deployment. The most important thing is continuous measurement, because that's what starts the process of finding root causes of low adoption and addressing them.

  • Share your wins, big and small, because they're the happily ever after your compelling narrative needs. 

Julien, Customer Success Manager at YOOBIC"Make sharing success a ritual in your internal communications, so employees look forward to hearing about it. For example, you could share the best Google or Tripadvisor reviews of the week and congratulate the restaurants that made them happen."

- Julien, Customer Success Manager, Food & Hospitality @YOOBIC

  • Keep the challenges, prizes, competitions and all the other fun incentives going long term if they're working. If they're not working, think of new ones!

Bonus Tip - Choose a technology provider who will partner with you, both short and long-term, to drive high adoption rates

The most innovative tech won't solve a single thing if frontline employees are uneasy, or even worse, indifferent, about using it.

That's why it's so important to partner with a vendor who will not only deploy a platform, but also work with you to understand your unique needs, use cases and internal procedures, and translate this into an effective strategy for driving high adoption rates.

The truth is, you know your frontline employees best. The right partner will be eager to translate your knowledge into a solid strategy for getting employees comfortable with using new tech.


YOOBIC's customer implementation and customer success teams have helped 150 + retailers, restaurants and brands around the world drive high adoption, empowering every frontline employee to deliver the perfect customer experience. 

Frontline teams love using YOOBIC's intuitive, gamified and engaging platform, making it easy to boost adoption rates.