Training retail staff is not easy: staff turnover is often high and they are not always up to date with technology and product needs. Because of problems like these, retailers often don't put enough effort into training and growth. In fact, 59% of retail employees said they had no training at all at work.  But training your retail staff is vitally important for the success of your business. This is especially important when you consider that retail staff are often the main contact point between your product and your customer. 

Where companies go wrong

A lot of business owners think that training is either a nice to have or an unnecessary expense. But actually, the reverse is true. Staff who aren't trained make mistakes that cost a lot of money, hurt sales and efficiency, and tend to annoy customers. Everything can be fixed, though, with some careful planning and good teamwork in the training area. Keep in mind that everyone wins when you give employees everything they need to do a good job. 

Benefits of retail training

If you conduct your staff training well, you can enjoy many benefits:

1. Improved employee engagement

Any store that wants to do well should put a high focus on having an engaged workforce. This is because engagement is needed for things like employee motivation and productivity.  80% of workers say that learning and growing makes them more involved at work. Meaning that if you want your staff to be engaged, then you need to begin by engaging with them.

2. Higher productivity

When employees are properly trained, they naturally do their jobs better. IBM did a study that showed that workers who are trained are at least 10% more effective. This makes sense; an employee's ability to be productive depends on whether or not they have the knowledge they need to do their job well.

3. Less staff turnover

There is a lot of employee turnover in the retail business. This can be lessened with training and growth. 86% of millennials - who make up 25% of the retail workforce - would think about staying with their job if they were offered training and growth opportunities, and the number of employees leaving companies that put money into their learning programmes dropped by 53%. When people feel like they have been invested in, they tend to lean in and want more, as well as offer more instinctively. 

Key retail employee training areas

What are some of the other key areas to keep in mind when training retail staff?

1. Product know-how & scenario training

First and foremost, retail staff need to be equipped with knowledge and confidence to do their work well. These days, stores know that the customer holds the power in the interaction. People who have smartphones and access to the internet can read reviews, do research, and compare choices for a long time before they even go to the store. Your store staff needs to know what they're up against, so help them understand this dynamic. Product knowledge is very important and can help you stand out from others in the same field. If you know a lot about your product, you can build your image as an expert in the field and make customers happier. Even though this process can be dull, there are ways to make it fun and get everyone on board. 

Not only should your workers know how to use your product technically, but they should also know how to sell it in different situations. Your staff need to understand the differences between real-life and online interactions so that they can focus on the power of face-to-face interactions. If you use this right, it can have a big impact on sales.  Further to this, scenario-based retail sales training can help employees prepare for real-life sales situations and use what they know about products in an actual setting. These situations don't have to be hard at all; in fact, a simple one can help people learn more.

2. Use digital sales training

When you want to train your retail staff well, you can't just use old company training methods. This is because the way we learn and take in knowledge has changed. There are more than six billion smartphones in use around the world, and people depend on them. They have changed our behaviour and standards in a way that can't be changed back. People now expect everything in their lives, including how they learn at work, to be as easy to use as the way they get knowledge and play with technology in their free time. This is where learning on the go can help. We already learn on the go with our phones - a Google study shows that 30% of people use their phones for research. With this in mind, using mobile-based learning makes training easier for retail staff and better works with their schedules. The numbers are clear: mobile learning boosts motivation to finish training by 70% and increases productivity by 43%.

Video can also be a strong and useful way to share knowledge. Video can help with learning in many ways when it is given in an interesting, short form. In fact, a study by Forrester Research found that staff are 75% more likely to watch videos than read emails or papers. Videos should be a big part of your training if you want your employees to be interested in what you're saying.

3. Make employee-led training material

Your staff are the only ones who really know what they need to learn. Surveys are the best way to get fast feedback on current knowledge gaps and offer learning that is highly relevant to the role. There are many types of jobs in retail, such as full-time and part-time, management and sales associates. The "one-training-fits-all approach" doesn't take into account that they need different levels of knowledge. If you make general content, it probably won't work for everyone because we all have different ways of learning.

The act of asking for comments itself leads to many good results. According to the Hackman and Oldham model of motivation, feedback is a trait that makes employees more motivated.  Of those workers, 44% said they would be more loyal to a company that asked for their opinion. In addition to making your training material better and helping people remember it, asking for feedback to make learner-led content can also help people do better at work. Employees are 4.6 times more likely to do their best work when they feel heard.

4. Encourage people to keep learning

Almost half of people who work directly with customers only get training once a year. This makes it very hard for your staff to do their jobs to the expected level, and realistically, random, one-time training events make it less likely that we will remember what we've learned. The ‘forgetting curve’ shows that we only remember half of what we learned the day after we first heard it. This means that your people need to be reminded of things in order to remember them. Continuous learning means picking up new skills all the time. This way of training sees it as an ongoing process that needs to be done to improve performance. One of the best reasons to use continuous learning is that your workers will likely enjoy it. And when workers feel like their employer cares about their growth, it makes them more engaged and motivated. 

The bottom line

In a store setting, sales training is an important part of the job. It's not only important for getting new employees up to speed, but it also helps them understand the bigger picture of your business in the long run. This kind of contextualising is very important if you want to run a retail business. This process goes beyond just onboarding and needs to be done in a pretty standard way. This could happen through training courses, more advanced sales courses for managers, building a brand, or taking shorter courses all year long to improve skills. This not only helps employees do their best work but it also shows that you value them and want to help them learn important skills. Putting in this much work at the beginning and then every day after that will only help your staff and buyers. In fact, this is an example of a place where spending money upfront can really help your bottom line over time. So, to invest in your retail staff training, contact Merchant Capital and fund your retail training strategy in the next 48 hours.

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