Retail employees, more so than most other fields, have to deal with customers in person, and while good people skills are essential, they are not enough by themselves.
A successful sale or a satisfactory customer service experience is built upon years of experience in dealing with customers who, as the old saying goes are always right, combined with rigorous training and continuous reeducation to new products, selling techniques and market trends.
At least that’s the ideal retail employee. Unfortunately, the reality leaves a lot to be desired.
A recent research produced by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills contains the rather unsettling finding that the retail workforce is in desperate need of training.
As the authors put it: “60 per cent of sector employers with skills shortage vacancies have difficulty recruiting employees with these skills” and “In order to meet the predicted skills demand retailers will need to up-skill existing workers and attract appropriately skilled new entrants”.
The ever-shifting landscape of the retail business, dominated by unpredictable forces such as fashion trends, shifting demands and guerrilla marketing, requires navigational orders that are communicated fast, understood completely and executed smoothly.
Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt if they also come cheaply, as the razor thin margins an awful lot of retail businesses operate on don’t leave much of a budget for training expenses.
As the creators of the industry leading eFront eLearning management platform we might be biased, but when it comes to fast, flexible and cost effective training, eLearning is the only viable option that comes to mind.
Let’s see how eLearning can help you build and retain a successful retail team that will keep you ahead of the competition.
Employee orientation is the task of introducing new hires to your working environment and giving them the basic information they need to start being productive, including your company’s operating procedures, policies, guidelines.
If your retail business hires new people frequently, e.g. to cover increased seasonal business, automating employee orientation is one of the best investments you can make, and eLearning software like eFront is your best option for achieving this.
With eFront you can organize your orientation material in accessible units, incorporate video, audio, images, PDFs, PowerPoint presentations etc., and integrate material from third parties (YouTube, Wikipedia, RSS, etc).
And because it’s a full blown LMS as opposed to a static content management system, you can also include tests and quizzes in order to better access your hires’ progress and understanding of the onboarding material.
eFront also logs orientation course attendance, something that in case of legal dispute can serve as proof that your company has informed your employees about stuff like labor safety, environmental protection laws, sexual harassment issues, etc., though, you should consult your legal team before relying on this, as it might not apply to your jurisdiction.
In retail, change is the norm.
Employees are often re-assigned or promoted to handle different accounts and/or departments, and there are always new hires, especially in sectors such as clothing retail that frequently hire younger employees that are prone to leave the business after a couple of years or so.
All these things make training necessary. eLearning makes it easy and cost effective, enabling your employees to complete their training at their own pace, thus minimizing business disruptions and reducing employee overtime.
eFront also provides a comprehensive reporting system that gives you quantifiable information and statistics for your employees’ attendance, progress and understanding of the training material.
An eLearning based solution will also help if have a frequent need to change your training material (e.g. to introduce new tech products or clothing lines, to teach employees new sales techniques and marketing tactics, to promote a new customer service strategy, etc.).
eFront allows you to update all your courses without wasted paper and dead trees, re-use and expand content as you see fit; and share courses between different retail departments and branches. Plus, with eFront’s integration to the OpenSesame eLearning content marketplace, you can buy ready-made professional courses in thousands of topics, including sales and marketing.
In all lines of business there are a few employees whose experience is crucial for an organization’s day to day operation, as well as others who are the only ones that know how to handle some rare emergency situation.
Retail is no different in this regard.
If your supervising employee takes the day off or quits to join a cult, can the rest of your retail employees manage the store by themselves? Can they handle an especially demanding, but very valuable, customer?
An eLearning platform like eFront will help you store all of your business’ valuable operational knowledge in a formalized and easily accessible way, safe from changes in personnel, and available to be consulted at any time.
Sure, you could just put all that into a document management system, and have them forgotten and buried under digital dust. By putting it in an LMS, though, you ensure that they’re not just static documents sitting on a server, but rather live content that you can use to educate the rest of your staff and even train new hires with — while leveraging all of your LMS’ learning related functionality (from tests and quizzes to gamification and certification features).
Take eFront for a test drive today, and see for yourself how eLearning can help boost employee skills and increase sales for your retail business.
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