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The Importance of Skills Training For In-Store and Omnichannel Retail Employees
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Shopbox is proud to partner with Ireland Website Design, one of Ireland’s leading web design and development agencies for eCommerce retailers. To kickstart your journey towards a better online experience for your customers, Nick Butler (founder of Ireland Website Design) is here with a guest post centred around how skills training for in-store and omnichannel retailers can benefit your business.
Skills training for retail employees isn’t just a ‘perk of the job’ or a way to improve company culture. It’s also not just a way for retail businesses to increase retention rates and improve business performance overall.
While these things are undoubtedly true, skills training for in-store and omnichannel retail employees can benefit your business on a much deeper level than this. It’s just a case of approaching it in the right way.
Forecasts indicate that by 2026, eCommerce will make up close to a quarter of total global retail sales. This, along with the fact that consumer shopping habits are changing by the day, it’s time for your entire retail business to know how to keep up.
Moving forward, retail teams need to be agile and ready to take on whatever challenges face the industry next — as well as being able to leverage any opportunities that arise too! With targeted online training for employees in the right areas, your retail team can be primed and ready to tackle not only upcoming trends but also notice more subtle shifts before anyone else.
To help you understand the true benefits of skills training for retail employees (and your retail business as a whole!), I’m here with my top insights.
1. The right skills training can improve team dynamics and performance
Not everyone will approach certain tasks in the same way. This is why having the option to change up how we do things can immediately open up our ability to perform better.
The unfortunate thing about retail environments is that systems and processes can sometimes seem overly stringent. This often results in team members failing at tasks they could excel at if they felt more comfortable approaching them from a different angle.
With targeted training for the right employees, you can quickly help team members find their place in your retail business and develop the skills they need to rise above any challenges. This is what helps improve staff retention rates and encourages a more proactive team dynamic.
To identify which skills to target in individual employees or teams:
- Talk directly with managers — do they see potential in certain team members but can also see them struggling with certain aspects of their role?
- Talk directly with team members — whether it’s through personal development plans or online questionnaires, employees often have areas of their own performance they’d like to improve
- Consider more generic training sessions first and go from there — feedback from company-wide or team training sessions can be a great way to tease out how to move forward with more dedicated skills training for individual groups
2. Skills training promotes the monitoring of key industry trends
Because consumers now expect faster and more streamlined shopping experiences than ever, retailers are not only expected to keep up with new technology — they’re expected to be ahead of new technology.
In 2019, it was recorded that 40 percent of Irish companies were already using AI technology. As Shopbox users will know, retailers are contributing significantly to this figure. This is because with increasing pressure to meet consumer demands, AI technology is providing the perfect solution.
This is why for retail businesses, skills training can be a great way to update your team on how the industry is moving and test out some new ways of working that could elevate your business strategy.
Some key areas of training for your business to focus on (based on industry trends) include:
- AI technology (how it can be used to improve your customer experience and overall business operations… something Shopbox users will already be familiar with!)
- Retail management systems
- Sustainability strategies and solutions
- Mental health workshops (incorporated as part of a company culture strategy)
- Safety training
- Diversity and inclusion strategies (with a focus on accessibility and diversity in the workplace and across retail environments)
- Customer service (focusing on both face-to-face and online interactions)
- Customer loyalty
While some upcoming retail trends are already known to us, more subtle shifts will also be important for your retail staff to recognise. Because skills training can often spark a newfound passion for an employee’s industry, education is likely to help them think more strategically about their role and pick up on details they’ve previously missed.
With the right approach, skills training should strike the perfect balance between the professional development of your employees and the strategic development of your business. Sounds ideal, right?
3. Learning can add a new perspective to mundane tasks and encourage valuable feedback
With skills training, your retail teams can reconfigure how they think and view even the most mundane tasks differently. Especially for retail employees working at ground level, upper management can often learn the most from these people.
By giving retail staff access to new learning materials, whether they relate to specific areas or more generally, you can encourage your team to challenge themselves and think differently about every aspect of their job.
In turn, this can give employees the confidence they need to provide valuable feedback about their role and become part of shaping the future of your business.
- When order picking or stocktaking, are your employees actively seeking out new ways to speed up and optimise this process?
- Are your teams considering ways to reduce waste and costs when packing shipments?
- Are customer service teams noticing any ways communication could be improved across teams?
In helping your teams on the ground expand their thinking, you’ll start to notice that the feedback you receive is exactly what your business needs to stay ahead.
4. Retail staff that understand customers know how to handle them better
For both retail-eCommerce and in-store teams, customer service is one of the most challenging aspects of retail. Not only do consumers expect more for their money, an increase in competition also means that brand loyalty is harder than ever to achieve.
If you want to improve customer loyalty and effectively build your brand image, helping your retail employees understand more about the customers they’re dealing with can be hugely beneficial.
To do this, consider training in areas such as:
- Communication and active listening skills
- Customer-centric approaches
- Product training
- Decision-making skills
- Diversity and sensitivity training
Training sessions dedicated to your company’s core values can also help teams perform better. Particularly for omnichannel retailers, core values need to align across all touchpoints. To ensure core values are visible in both eCommerce and in-store environments, dedicated learning materials could be the answer.
How can your retail business get started with skills training?
Even though some form of investment is usually required for skills training, a good payoff is almost always guaranteed with the right strategy. While successful investment for your business can sometimes involve a mixture of good luck and great timing, investment in your people is risk-free.
Nowadays, for your retail staff to receive first-class training that targets specific pain points or addresses more generic issues, they don’t even have to leave the comfort of their own homes. With a wider availability of technology and a collective eagerness to improve how we navigate this complex world — a new age of skills training has been initiated.
With employee training software now offering the ability for businesses to provide training programmes to entire cohorts of staff and even tailor programmes to suit individual needs — the future of skills training lies in customisable training systems that grow with your business.
About Nick Butler
Founder of Ireland Website Design, a web design and development agency dedicated to eCommerce and retail businesses, Nick knows a thing or two about how Irish and international retail works. Focused on helping companies to enhance their digital presence and increase sales, Nick and his team have worked with some of the biggest names in the business.