That the retail landscape has changed over the last two decades in Nigeria is no longer news. From customers, to brands supplying goods and services to retail and retailers themselves, everything retail has changed. This change has increasingly more pronounced in the area of retail knowledge – thanks to the internet!
Unfortunately, most retail staff are lack the basic skills and are not well equipped with the knowledge and tools to handle today’s well-informed customers and brands and the dynamic nature of the industry. This results in the delivery of poor results with the attendant implications for retail growth and development.
The positive side of this change is that some retailers are beginning to embrace top quality and apposite skill development programs for their staff helping to bridge the knowledge gap. The benefits for these organisations are huge. From having competent hands to execute their retail operations to the results they deliver, the retail organisation that is willing to invest in the training and development of its staff is ultimately the winner in both the short and long run.
Why you should train and develop your staff
Your retail staff are frontline troops in the battle to win and keep customers. Therefore, it makes sense to pay close attention to the way they interact with customers and close a sale.
Whereas it can take years for young employees to acquire top-notch skills through ‘on the job’ learning, it make sense to speed up the process using best in class retail industry specific training programs to hone their skills and develop their competencies particularly in customer interaction, engagement, selling and experience.
Here are some basic reasons you should invest in the training and development of your staff, particularly your frontline ambassadors.
- Staff training and development will Increase staff effectiveness
The right kind of training can help your staff develop stronger sales skills and greatly increase their productivity. Enable your staff to make the distinction between a customer looking for assistance and one who wants to be left to browse undisturbed. Sometimes this is a hard call to make, but training can help your employees learn to assess what customers really want.
- Staff training and development will improve customer perceptions
In an age of social sharing, the consequence of bad perceptions from your customers about your staff knowledge, attitude and behaviour is too much to contemplate for your operation. All it takes is one bad behaviour from your “unschooled” staff. Training will help minimise the occurrence of such incidences in your retail operations and save you from needless unfavourable reviews on social mediaThe other is if your staff offer a warm and welcoming environment to shop in, customers are far more likely to buy, as well as telling their friends. It is a simple equation. Moreover, this is what retail is all about.
- Staff training and development will improve staff retention.
The major fear of retailers in committing to staff training and development is staff attrition. However, the greater fear really is retaining a pool of unskilled and incompetent staff who have where else to go to except your operation.A well-planned and effective training and development program for your staff can reduce retail staff turnover and hiring costs in two important ways. Firstly, if your employees feel recognised and valued, it gives them a clear reason to stay in your business. Secondly, if your staff are performing at their optimum levels, and are well motivated, there is no reason in the world for them to contemplate moving on to another retail organisation.
- Staff training and development will improve managers’ coaching effectiveness
A well designed and executed retail industry specific training has the capacity to bring out your employees’ latent talents and problem areas. It will beam the searchlight on your staff revealing the strengths and weaknesses of your people. The implication for managers’ ability to coach and develop staff, particularly through modelling of top talents is huge.
- Staff training and development will improve the chances of your staff becoming trusted advisors
In an age where there is so much product and information, customers are often with the huge burden of making the right choice. This can become tremendous opportunity for the well-trained and informed staff to educate the customer and clear the confusion. By providing the customer with correct information, he is can to guide the customer to making informed decisions and right choices. Therefore, the associate who is skilled enough to played this role of trusted advisor will generate more sales in multiples better than other.
- Staff training and development will improve sales closure
The whole goal of opening a retail outlet is to sell. This ultimately boils down to the ability of staff to close the sale. The more sales your staff are able to close, the more the revenue of your retail operation.Successful brands now know that it is possible to minimise showrooming with properly trained point of sale staff, who are skilled enough to engage with the customer without intimidating them. However, the real key to the success of this strategy lies in knowing how to close the sale and that can only come from the right kind of training and support.It is about the ability of your staff to spot the right kind of buying signals in the course of an involved customer interaction and the knowledge of how to convert the opportunity into a short walk to the cash register. With proper staff training, every customer encounter is an opportunity to convert the interaction into a valuable sale.
- Staff training and development will improve customer satisfaction and loyalty
The successful retailers know that the war for the hearts and minds of the consumer is far from over, and if anything, it is bound to increase. Therefore, the importance of a friendly and expert face on the ground can be much more important when ensuring customer satisfaction and loyalty.