The Fastest-Growing Job in Retail Isn’t on the Sales Floor

The retail industry is one of the biggest employers in the United States, but its workforce is in the midst of a major upheaval, a fact illustrated by new data from LinkedIn that shows the fastest-growing jobs in the sector.

Analyzing users on its platform that work for general merchandise, specialty merchandise, or e-commerce retailers with more than 100 employees, LinkedIn found that “software developer” leapt from the eighth most-popular job title in 2013 to the third most popular in 2017, behind only “logistics specialist” and “salesperson.” Employees in engineering and IT roles also take up a larger share of the industry overall, up to 9 percent from 7 percent four years ago.

Sales, meanwhile, saw the opposite shift occur, dropping from 33 percent of the total workforce to 29 percent. This may come as no surprise with the pace of brick-and-mortar closures and the growth of e-commerce — the shutdown of Bon-Ton Stores Inc., announced this week, will alone put 24,000 employees out of work — but it’s striking considering that sales remains the biggest function in the industry. It also mirrors findings from the U.S. Department of Labor’s recent jobs reports, which have shown a decline in retail employment (the National Retail Federation has disputed the statistics, however, arguing that they fail to account for the growth in warehouse and call-center roles created by e-commerce).

LinkedIn also analyzed the industry-specific skills most popular among technical employees in retail, and found that warehouse management system implementation, supply chain optimization, and Mahout, a machine-learning engine responsible for product recommendations on many sites, were among the top five.

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