In retail the customer usually reigns supreme. But retail actually extends further than just keeping the customer happy. There is in fact, another key aspect that is very often overlooked: Training retail employees. Your retail staff are the most important touch point between your service and your customers. So when staff are effectively engaged, they are very powerful brand ambassadors. When managed well, this holds the possibility to create a tipping point which will cascade into  brand custodians and increased sales. So here are some top tips for training your employees in the year ahead.

Plan training for your new recruits

When bringing new employees into your business, it’s vital to have an onboarding plan in place. This should include all aspects of training from understanding the bigger brand picture and operations to refining small touch points like how to greet customers and manage the shop floor. To achieve this you need to put together a training curriculum and dedicated timeline.  This should include a deep understanding of the company mission and vision, product overviews and training, defining employee roles and expectations, training in technology and understanding company policies. This training plan should support the employee in the day-to-day role but also in the larger picture of how they are contributing to the business at large. It’s a good idea to provide all this information in an employee handbook for easy reference after the training has been completed. 

Where employees go wrong

Many employees view training as a nice to have or an unnecessary expense. In reality however, the opposite is true. Untrained staff make expensive mistakes, they lower productivity and sales and can really upset customers. But all this can be sorted out with careful planning and clever coordination in the training space. When you give new hires what they need to onboard effectively, everybody wins. 

What are the different types of retail training?

Retail sales training

This involves equipping staff with the right skills and confidence to effectively do their jobs. Modern retail understands that the power of the transaction sits in the buyers hands. With smartphones and internet access, the buyer can do research, read reviews and compare options long before they enter the store. Help your retail staff understand this dynamic so they know what they are working with. Also train your staff to understand the differences between an online and bricks and mortar dynamic so they focus on the power of an in-person experience. When harnessed well, this can have a powerful effect on sales.

Product knowledge

This is absolutely essential and can set you apart from your competition. The upside of knowing your product well, is that you can influence your reputation as a category expert and increase customer satisfaction. While this process can feel tedious, there are ways to make the process engaging and encourage staff buy in. 

Scenario-based retail sales training

In addition to understanding the technicalities of your product, it is equally important to help your employees understand how to sell it in different scenarios. In this way, scenario-based retail sales training can help staff anticipate the sales situation in real life and put their product knowledge into practice with a context in mind. These scenarios don’t have to be complex at all, and even a simple scenario can elevate the learning process. 

The bottom line

Sales training is an integral process in the retail setting. Not only is it essential in helping your staff onboard effectively, but it also means that employees are orientated to your company’s bigger picture long term. This kind of contextualizing is vital for driving your business at retail level. Rest assured that this process extends beyond on-boarding and needs to be conducted in a relatively consistent way. This could take the form of refresher courses, more advanced sales for management, brand building and refining skills in shorter courses throughout the year. This not only helps staff do the best possible job, but it also sends the message that they matter and you are investing in them with important skills. Putting in this kind of effort upfront and thereafter consistently, can only benefit your staff and customers. And in fact this is an example of a place where upfront investment can seriously improve your bottom line in the long term.

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