A recent study¹ found that less than half of retail employees receive formal training, while 32 percent of retail employees don’t receive any formal training at all.
That’s a major missed opportunity, since retail employees can benefit greatly from formal training that teaches customer service, sales, and de-escalation techniques. Online training may be particularly beneficial, because the skills that are required for successful retail sales and management are skills that are easily delivered through an online format.
The same study as above also found that front line employees want training that is:
Easy to complete and understand (93 percent)
Engaging and fun (92 percent)
Personal and relevant (91 percent)
Applies to on-the-job activities (89 percent)
Available on demand (88 percent)
Online training is available at the employee’s convenience, can incorporate fun, engaging features, and can be designed around adaptive, easy to learn, and applicable on-the-job situations.
For companies that are interested in implementing online retail training or improving the program they already have, here are four tips that make the most of your employees’ interest and training requirements.
1. Tailor Training Content and Courses to Specific Positions
Retail establishments require many different types of employees, and each type requires a different set of skills and competencies.
Associates on the floor may attend training to improve skills such as sales basics, greeting customers, suggestive selling, or demonstrative selling, among others. Employees in operations or management may benefit from a course in running effective meetings, visual merchandising, improving employee retention, or strategic planning.
Tailor your online training program to employees’ roles, with optional add-on modules for staff who want to understand their colleagues’ responsibilities as well. Training courses that speak to employees in a specific way means that the content is relevant and applicable, and more likely to be engaging to learners. By providing insight into what other employees are doing, you also increase transparency and help build respect and understanding between different departments.
2. Create Learning Paths for Advancement
Employees are motivated by the opportunity for career growth – 76 percent of employees believe² it to be one of the top three non-financial motivators that a company can offer. And professional development is even more important to millennials, 87 percent of whom rated it as a very important benefit of employment.
Training programs can be used to create a learning path for employees, delineating a clear, well-defined progression from one level to the next. The best LMS software makes this easy, moving employees from one lesson to another, gradually gaining skills to set them on a path for advancement.
3. Create Sales-Specific Training
One study³ found that every dollar spent on sales training resulted in $29 in increased revenues.
Creating online training courses that address sales skills and provide situational references that can be applied directly to the job can be extremely beneficial to retail establishments.
When creating online retail sales training courses, start by establishing a baseline. How well are your sales associates doing now? How well do they perform after the training course? Collect data and employee feedback so you can refine your course to produce the greatest results for upskilling employees and increasing your sales.
4. Make Training Ongoing as well as On-Demand
Employee turnover in the retail industry is high4 – 65 percent for hourly store employees in 2016. And the cost of turnover is tremendous, not just in direct recruiting costs, but also in employee morale and loss of knowledge.
Online training can be distributed to employees as the need arises – when new salespeople are hired, when new products are introduced, or periodically, as the need arises to refresh skills and knowledge.
Make training store associates just as important a priority as training and developing your office staff. You’ll be more likely to retain employees and help them move up in your company.
Improving Online Retail Training Improves Business Results
Training retail employees has many benefits for employers. Not only does it improve the skills of the workforce, making employees more efficient and effective, it also helps to increase employee competencies, confidence, and engagement.
A recent survey5 found that offering career training and development would keep 86 percent of millennials from leaving their current job. With the high cost and disruptive effect of turnover in the retail industry, and the difficulty sourcing and hiring qualified employees, an investment in online training can help a retail enterprise to upskill, advance, and retain employees, while improving sales and revenues along the way.