Top 3 priorities in retail onboarding

Posted on Jul 06, 2017

Learning strategies

Elearning

Good salespeople know their customer’s priority is themselves, and if they enjoy the sales process, they’re more likely to make a purchase.

An effective retail onboarding strategy should use that knowledge when training new staff.

When you focus on three of the most important areas of retail onboarding, you can ensure the strategy tackles your biggest challenges by identifying priorities.

First, you should find out as much as you can about your learners. Looking at retail industry statistics and trends will give you a good baseline to start from.

Retail industry staff breakdown:

Priority 1: Customer focus

86% of US adults would pay more for a better customer experience.

With online sales growing at the expense of brick and mortar stores, retailers need to maximise the advantages they have in-store over an online experience. How are they different? Your retail staff and their interaction with the customer.

The need to get staff up to date on processes, compliance issues and product knowledge often overshadows the basics of customer service. Making customer focus a priority means streamlining the essential compliance tasks of the learning in order to focus on customer service.

Creating effective learning for soft skills, like building rapport and raising emotional responses, is more of a challenge than a health and safety tick box, but if it was easy your competitors would be doing it.

Priority 2: Product knowledge

If you’re equipping your retail staff with the skills to engage with customers, the next thing they’re going to need is product knowledge. Depending on what they’re selling, this might mean technical details of a small number of products, or a broad overview of many.

Employees and customers are more likely to be faced with an overabundance of information than a lack of it. Your role as a trainer is to make the relevant information available in an easily consumable and discoverable format.

You will act as a filter, presenting the best product knowledge where it’s needed and you should be reinforcing that knowledge on a daily basis. This is where a good employee knowledge platform really pays off, making your job easier and more efficient.

Priority 3: Organisation values

When you’re delivering compliance, customer service and product knowledge training, you should consider how they fit into your company's culture. Every piece of onboarding a retail staff encounters should be consistent with your company values.

Having one onboarding programme for all staff helped Specsavers create a consistent experience that excited new starters about the values of the organisation. Using a unique system where new employees could contribute to one of Specsavers charitable causes before their first day led to higher voluntary completions and better feedback.

Staff turnover is relatively high in the retail industry, one way that’s been shown to lower turnover is making your company values at the heart of your training. Great Place to Work uses their Trust Index to measure performance indicators for business, including staff turnover and find that top performing organisations rate much higher for values-aligned behaviour at 81 points, compared to an average of 59 points for an ‘average’ organisation.

We highlighted examples of how companies use onboarding to instil values in our blog post Representing corporate culture in elearning induction.

Find your balance

Concentrating too much on any one aspect of retail onboarding can result in missed sales opportunities and unhappy customers.

Great customer service requires enthusiasm but it’s hard to be enthusiastic without confidence in the processes, products and organisation you’re working with. Finding the right balance means creating the right mix of learning strategies for you.

Work with a specialist who can offer the right solution for your new starters, whether that’s creating a new strategy from scratch or building on your foundations.

We’ll be discussing what makes a successful onboarding strategy in our upcoming webinar, register for free here.

Ask an expert

Charlotte Bryce, Platform Solutions Advisor at Sponge UK

Charlotte's focus is on learning reinforcement, enabling organisations to fuel growth and development through improved employee knowledge. 

As part of Sponge's platform team she specialises in the retail sector. If you're excited about the latest innovations and trends in learning reinforcement get in touch.

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