5 Retail Training Best Practices for 2020 and Beyond

11 November 2020

Training & learning

When a crisis strikes, a retailer’s learning and development budget is usually the first expense to be slashed - but it shouldn’t be.

Providing them with thorough and effective retail training sessions is a surefire way to give them the confidence they need to excel in their role, despite the hardships they have been faced with this year.

But it is true that hard times call for creativity and resourcefulness, so it’s important to use your learning and development tools wisely.

Here are 5 best practices to ensure that your retail training program can support your frontline employees in their professional development, in 2020 and beyond.

RELATED: 5 Common Problems with Retail Sales Training and How to Fix Them

#1 Make training for frontline employees easily digestible

Frontline staff are more often than not working longer hours on a reduced rota, and with a whole host of extra requirements and guidelines to follow to make the store COVID-secure, they have a lot on their plate.

That’s why so many retailers are already investing in microlearning.

Breaking up retail training into small, easily digestible chunks is a proven method for understanding and retaining new information. Not only that, but it also fits in neatly with the working day of your average frontline employee.

Between manning the sales desk, restocking the shop floor, dealing with customer requests, and making sure social distancing guidelines are upheld, learning and development is not exactly their top priority. But a fun, 5-minute quiz between tasks? That’s a welcome break, not a chore.

RELATED: Microlearning Examples: 7 Ideas to Elevate Your Workplace Training

#2 Make training accessible

Most frontline employees are deskless - often they don’t have access to a work computer, or even a company email address.

That means that one of your top priorities when deciding on a retail training program is how to make it accessible to your employees, no matter where they are - and the best way to do that is through mobile learning.

The two generations currently shaping the frontline retail workforce are millennials and Gen Z. Millennials spend an average of 3.2 hours on their phones every day, and 75% of Gen Z prefer using a smartphone over a desktop computer.

Sending information and training materials directly to your frontline employees’ mobile devices ensures that they never miss a thing.

RELATED: The Complete Guide to M Learning (Mobile Learning) in the Workplace

#3 Make training interactive

We’ve all been there. Stuck in a never-ending training session, learning absolutely nothing except how to force yourself to stay awake in a hot, stuffy room and pretend you’re following what the instructor is saying.

That shouldn’t be the default method for training anyone, let alone busy frontline employees.

To properly engage your frontline staff, retail training needs to be interactive and fun. Including a variety of different media - such as short videos, quizzes, polls, images and even GIFs - makes training a fun, gamified experience, rather than a bore.

Making learning and development an interactive process will help frontline employees feel actively involved in their own professional growth, and they will actually start to look forward to completing their training.

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#4 Make training collaborative

The concept of social learning - that we learn best by observing and imitating the actions of others - has long been used to aid learning and development.

Theoretical learning is of little use to a frontline employee. Tasks such as restocking shelves or serving customers can’t be learned from a book - you can only learn by actually doing those things.

And in retail, everything is so fast-paced that learning on the job is pretty much your only option anyway. New staff need to be onboarded quickly so that they can start making a valuable contribution to the team early on, without needing much assistance from a manager.

With so much to do, retail workers must collaborate as a team to keep things running smoothly. Giving your frontline employees a dedicated space where they can ask and answer questions, give advice and exchange best practices benefits employees of all levels, and improves performance across the board.

RELATED: Social Learning: What It Is, And Why It’s Crucial For Frontline Employees

#5 Make training and communications centralized

Like strawberries and cream or peanut butter and jelly, retail training and internal communications just make sense together. So why wouldn’t they be part of the same platform?

Consolidating your training and comms into one place is much simpler for busy frontline employees whose attention is already split multiple ways. If all the information they need is easily accessible in the same place, everyone can be kept in the loop.

To fully integrate training and communications, pair training sessions with company updates and announcements. Launching a new product, implementing a new visual merchandising display, rolling out a new COVID-secure safety procedure… all of these communications can be combined with a short training module to make sure that the message is understood, and that actions will be carried out correctly.

Finding and using these opportunities for learning and development will mean that doing short bursts of training will soon become second nature to frontline employees, and they’ll be constantly learning new things.

RELATED: Why Frontline Employees Need a Unified Platform for Training & Internal Communications

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