I recently visited the store opening for a new location of a very successful national retailer that has developed a new store concept that is infused with technology. This store is state of the art and truly groundbreaking. It has everything: from interactive mirrors, to social media feeds, to video boards. It’s amazing!
While I was shopping and looking around, I got to talking with one of the sales associates. He was very excited about working in this store and was very enthusiastic about how cool it was.
I asked him about how they trained associates, and what he described was a typical, traditional training method. You know, the type where there’s a team meeting and they are taught about customer service in a workbook. They work through the training and then do some role playing. While this approach to training is standard, I was surprised that a brand that was so focused on technology in their stores would be using this dated, old-school training method, especially when the store was staffed with Millennials who are so technology driven! I’m sure they weren’t that thrilled to be sitting in a room learning via a lecture and a binder full of photocopies.
Why Traditional Training Isn’t Good Enough Anymore
The truth is, this approach to training is no longer enough for any brand to be able to create an engaged workforce and to drive the brand ahead. With old-school training, the manager has to find time to schedule training for associates. This is where the first challenge comes in: managers often are so strapped for time, they’re not able to do this effectively.
A research study of 30 retailers on 3 continents employing 400,000 retail staff asked: “what percentage of your store managers effectively implement and reinforce training and transformation initiatives in store?”
The answer? Only 15% of store managers followed through.
This means that training isn’t actually happening the way it needs to in each location, so there’s inconsistency across the brand. Plus, new associates are left to figure it out as they go and may not be properly equipped to deliver on the brand’s promise. As a result, customer experience may very well suffer. This is compounded by the fact that when training is delivered it’s not engaging, especially for Millennials that have grown up constantly connected to their tech devices.
Consider this: the average person has an attention span of 8 seconds, which is actually shorter than that of a goldfish. Thanks to technology, attention spans are getting shorter. For your training to be impactful, your brand needs to keep people not just awake, but in a state where they are actually learning.
The good news is, you have the opportunity to create a modernized approach to retail training today! Here are 3 reasons why you should be using technology for your retail training.
1) Low Costs: One of the most common concerns that comes up when I speak with retailers about adopting tech for their retail training is the cost.
Mobile phones are an extension of nearly every teen or adult, meaning your employees already have access to the devices they need for training and a comfort level with using them. Imagine: instead of having to book a room somewhere and get everyone into a room for training, or relying on your store manager to make it happen, you could equip your team to do training right on the store floor.
Using digital learning and training apps for smartphones, you can easily move away from traditional training at a fraction of the cost.
Mobile and e-learning comes in at 10 to 20% of the costs of face-to-face training, and is twice as effective.
Moving your retail operation to mobile and e-learning for your training can help cut training costs and improve retail profitability.
2) Get Insight: By using e-learning for your retail brand, you’re able to stop guessing about what’s happening with training at each location, and have insight into what’s really happening.
For example, at the corporate level you’ll be able to:
- Test associates and managers on completed trainings and even certify them.
- Ensure coaching sessions are scheduled to help staff continually improve.
- Measure activity and produce reports in real-time that show that staff are (or aren’t) implementing skills on the shop floor.
This level of insight helps move training from a static event at the store level to a company-wide initiative which is consistent and drives tangible results.
3) Impactful: Using technology in your retail training makes training interactive and engaging. Through active participation, you’ll be able to keep your employees’ attention longer, ensuring they actually absorb the information being given to them.
Employees will be better equipped with the skills they need to perform their jobs, and the company will be able to create a culture where talented employees are truly invested in the brand’s success.
LHR offers consulting services, training programs and elearning tools aimed at improving retail profitability. We can help you develop and implement effective digital learning into your retail environment.