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How to Develop a Training Program for Retail Employees

In a world dominated by eCommerce, brick and mortar retailers need every competitive advantage they can think of to stay relevant and profitable. One-way stores can outperform online shopping is through customer service. As a learning and development professional, how can you help your retail employees give unparalleled customer service?

In this article, we will cover what you need to know to launch your retail training program, including why you should consider a comprehensive retail training program and steps to get you started.

Why You Need a Comprehensive Retail Training Program

Retail employees are the lifeblood of your company. Proper training and development will improve employee retention, increase sales, and build a successful brand. Your employees need on-demand, interactive training that will prepare them to do their best.

Here are a few essential areas of retail training:

  • Retail Onboarding – getting employees acquainted with the company, branding, and processes
  • Customer Service – from navigating difficult conversations to service with a smile
  • Product Knowledge – your retail employees should be the experts on your product offerings and capabilities
  • Sales – from customer assistance to closing the sale, even upselling and cross-selling
  • Safety – prepare for dangerous situations such as fires, natural disasters, violent customers, shoplifters, or even armed robberies.

Steps to Launch a Retail Training Program

Outline Your Training Program Goals

Always start by asking yourself: “What are we doing, and why are we doing it?” You can create a fully comprehensive training program, but if you don’t have any goals set, how will you measure your success?

Employers provide training courses so that employees may be readily equipped with the tools they need, to develop new skill-sets, or even to learn the ins and outs of a new process. Set clear learning objectives and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) based on what your employees need to be successful.

Examples of Retail Training Goals:

  • Have a new employee fully onboarded and on the floor within two weeks of hire date.
  • Maintain a 90% customer satisfaction rate for employee interactions.
  • A new employee can set up a demo station, on their own, within two weeks of training.
  • Increase monthly sales by 10% through service upselling.

This is also the time where you can find the right partner to develop your training program. A good partner, like Roundtable Learning, can help guide you through this and all of the following steps.

Choose Your Modalities

You face many challenges in the retail industry when it comes to training and development. Your retail employees may be new to the workforce, might not have desks and computers, and they have to learn quickly.

A blended learning approach may be the best way to build your training program. Blended Learning, also commonly known as Hybrid Learning or personalized learning, is a concept that brings together traditional and digital learning techniques to create a fully comprehensive program. 

Options to Consider:

  • eLearning – Electronic Learning, more commonly referred to as eLearning, is a broad term used to describe the delivery of training materials through electronic (and digital) resources.

Example: Have an online-based learning management system that employees can complete on any device connected to the internet.

  • Augmented RealityAugmented Reality adds interactive, digital elements to a live, real-world environment through a phone, tablet, or headset.

Example: Use QR codes and phone or tablets that allow your employees to walk the floor and learn about products and services.

  • Virtual RealityVirtual Reality is an artificial environment in which the user is fully immersed in an experience. 

Example: Either privately or as a group, you can conduct virtual reality activities to put your employees in role-play scenarios to test their soft skills and communication styles.

  • Video Learning – Pre-recorded videos, either lectures or animations, that demonstrate complicated processes and techniques explained by your subject matter experts.

Example: Have a product designer or industry veteran walk through complex processes and utilize diagrams to explain concepts.

  • Instructor-Led Training – Traditional lectures and seminars that can include activities, workbooks, and group interaction.

Example: Get your staff together before a new product launch to learn from each other and work together to build a more energetic team.

Remember to be conscious of your budget, your timeline, and your employees. It’s essential to know your audience and their capabilities. 

Read More: How To Make eLearning More Learner-Centric

Audit Your Current Materials

Gather everything you currently have to audit what worked and what didn’t; there may be opportunities to evolve materials you already have into a new format.

This can include:

  • Presentations
  • Videos
  • Handouts
  • Diagrams and Charts
  • Posters
  • Scripts
  • Speaker Notes/Train the Trainer Materials
  • Models

This is also a great time to line up your subject matter experts, internally or externally, to see what kind of role they can play in the development and launch of your new program.

Develop Content and Materials for Your Program 

Now that you know your topics, goals, and what you currently have on hand, it’s time to develop your content and materials for your new training program. Depending on your budget, you may be able to leverage your learning development partner for some of this work, or perhaps hire internally for this task.

Remember to think holistically when creating your materials and your content:

  • What works with the technology you are using?
  • How can you build on previous lessons? 
  • What will your audience respond to?

Run a Pilot

Run a small pilot group through your program, watch your timing, what works, what doesn’t, and how the group reacts to your content and technology. Take notes and request tons of feedback from your employees. 

Don’t despair if you have to make changes; you should expect that. It’s the only way to get better.

Fine Tune and Launch

Review what happened with the pilot and make your updates. It could be minor, such as too many PowerPoint slides or more time allotment for an exercise to be completed. Hopefully, you don’t have significant changes, such as updating content or realigning the learning objectives.

Whatever changes needed, use your notes and your feedback to update your program. Be sure to leverage your subject matter experts and learning partners.

Evaluate Results and Program Effectiveness

After your program has been running, it’s time to measure the results and the effectiveness. 

What to look for:

  • What is the completion rate?
  • Are the learning objectives being retained?
  • Are they using what they learned?

Revisit those critical Key Performance Indicators and use them to measure the success of your program. Don’t be afraid to make updates; it may be necessary to keep up with changing processes, policies, or students’ learning styles.

Are You Ready for the Next Step?

We covered what you need to know to launch your own retail training program, including why you should consider a comprehensive retail training program and steps to launch a retail training program. 

So now it’s time to ask, is your company ready to build your comprehensive retail training program?

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