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any of the skills possessed by successful retail sales associates are what you may call “soft skills” — communication, patience, attention to detail, and the like. 

While these typically come naturally to employees, they can definitely be trained and nurtured alongside more technical skills like product and sales knowledge. Regardless of what retail skills you’re working to develop among your staff, retail training is worth investing in. 

In this guide, we’re going to unpack why and how to get started training your retail team.

What is Retail Training?

Retail training equips retail sales associates and staff with the knowledge and tools to convert more shoppers to customers. Retail training can include sales training, product or business education, and customer service training.

Retail training typically involves a blend of:

  • Digital training materials such as online courses and videos
  • Classroom-type training that educates employees on new products, practices, and technology
  • Role-playing sessions that allow employees to actively practice new skills 

Once retail training is completed (typically after onboarding), managers then test employee knowledge through digital assessments or in real-life situations monitored by managers or supervisors. Some retailers opt to conduct regular training on a quarterly or yearly basis to align sales associates on new business practices and refresh their retail skills.

Why is Retail Training Important?

Retail sales training is important for a few reasons. First, retail training can impact the success of your employees and business as a whole. A well-trained staff can significantly improve sales as well as customer service and overall shopping experience.

A well-trained retail staff is also happier. Retail training can create a sense of camaraderie between your managers and staff as well as help improve their individual productivity and performance — leading to a boost in commission and possible promotions.

Retail Training and E-Commerce

Retail training has historically not been necessary when it comes to e-commerce. With modern technology and a rise in omnichannel retail across the retail industry, however, that’s no longer true. It’s more important than ever for retailers to keep every active channel aligned — and the same goes for their employees.

For example, in years past, customers who shopped in a store interacted with its employees, and customers who shopped online, well, didn’t. Today, retailers have bridged the gap between their physical and digital retail realms, and employees have a hand in both.

Let’s discuss a couple of situations in which retail training for and with e-commerce comes in handy.

Showrooming

Showrooming is when consumers first visit a physical store to see products in person before going online to make their final purchase. Retail employees that are trained on their e-commerce platform can not only help customers discover what they’d like to buy, but they can also help customers make that digital purchase in-store.

In a similar situation, e-commerce solutions can help retail staff combat issues like low stock. If a customer is looking for a particular size or color that your store may not have at the moment, retail employees trained for e-commerce can process a digital transaction in-store that ships directly to the customer’s house — closing the sale and delighting the customer.

Remote Selling

As consumers’ shopping preferences change, remote retail selling is growing in popularity and convenience. While traditional retail training focused on how associates could deliver exceptional service in-store, retail training that incorporates e-commerce allows associates to provide that same customer experience online and from the comfort of their own home.

Tools like Endear can keep you remotely connect with your customers through product-based marketing emails, lookbooks, and centralized text messaging. Not only do these features help your retail associates provide personalized service and drive remote sales, but they also help you to track and attribute these efforts to associates just as you would for in-store sales.

Clienteling

As the face of your brand, your retail team has the ability to make or break customers’ experiences. One way to create unforgettable experiences is through clienteling. Retail training should equip and encourage your team to craft the most personalized interactions possible, with tools such as personal styling sessions and SMS marketing follow-ups

5 Tips to Improve Your Retail Sales Training

Regardless of your budget or the size of your retail team, here are five tips to improve your retail training.

1. Place an emphasis on customer service.

Exceptional customer service leads to customer loyalty which leads to heightened word-of-mouth marketing and loyal brand advocates. Retaining your customer base has been proven to be more cost-efficient than attracting new customers, and your retail staff is the key to keeping your customers around and happy.

2. Leverage training materials from vendors.

This tip is especially important for software like your point-of-sale (POS) system and tools like Endear. Don’t recreate the wheel by training your staff from your own knowledge (even if you’re a self-proclaimed expert). Work with the experts at those companies to develop materials for your sales associates or re-use training materials that they provide. Not only will this save you time and energy, but it may also teach you something new.

3. Ask your staff what they’d like to learn and improve upon.

Don’t assume what your retail staff needs; ask them. As you create your retail sales training program for new employees, ask your current staff what they wish they’d learned at the beginning of their jobs. Additionally, if you plan to hold quarterly or annual training sessions, gather feedback from employees about what skills competencies they’d like to review on a regular basis.

4. Incentivize your staff.

If your retail associates have no reason to improve their skills and sales performance, why would they? Whether through commission, promotions, flexible schedules, or free or discounted merchandise, provide incentives for your staff to improve their retail skills and help grow your business.

5. Set expectations and goals.

In addition to incentives, goals can be a strong motivator for your retail staff. To avoid open-ended training with no clear purpose, set your expectations for your staff from the get-go. Why are they receiving the training? How should they use it in their day-to-day jobs? What is expected of them once they complete it? Answering these questions on day one will help your staff better understand how to leverage their new and improved skills.

6. Train yourself, too.

As a retail store owner or sales manager, you’re not exempt from retail training. You may not be on the sales floor working with products and customers like your employees are, but you can still benefit from learning and nurturing your own skills — especially where new products and technology are involved. Participating in retail training alongside your team can also help build trust and camaraderie with your sales associates. 

Retail training is a priceless investment. By equipping your team (and yourself) with new skills, competencies, and confidence, you can drive revenue, improve customer service, and boost your employee success — not to mention the success of your own business. Check out Endear to equip your team with the tools they need to drive sales and improve their performance.

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