Role of corporate training in the retail sector

India is the 5th largest destination in retail space and is expected to grow at US $950 billion by 2018. This sector has witnessed a rapid growth in implementation of employee training programmes as front-line associates have a major and immediate influence over consumers’ buying decisions. For example, in a shopping complex, the sales staff is the biggest stimulus for the customer’s purchase decisions, hence their communication skills, soft skills, knowledge about the product etc. are an important concern. It becomes crucial to pay close attention to the way retail workforce interacts with customers and closes the sales transactions. Training ensures that the workforce structure of an organization remains strong.

Training requires a substantial percentage of expenditure by company which seems like a huge expense at start but is proved to be profitable in the long run. Employees who are well informed and have access to training materials, as and when they require, are typically happier. Retail is well known for its high turnover rates and one of the benefits of training in the sector is that it can help increase employee retention rate by giving them the knowledge and skills they need to fulfill their job responsibilities.

Keeping the employees informed about company policies, procedures, and processes is key to success but giving them training they need often requires a great deal of time and money. Various cost optimization methods are being implemented like online training, where some portion of the trainings are delivered through app based self-paced learning.

How does corporate training impact the retail sector?

Increased sales and customer satisfaction
A well-informed retail staff can help a customer make well-informed buying decision. The benefit of training in retail is that it keeps employees informed about the products on offer, so that they can make clear communication with the customer. This leads to an increase in customer satisfaction and buyer confidence, which results in higher sales and profits. It’s a domino effect, beginning with an effective corporate training strategy. The same rule applies to retail customer service associates. They must be aware of processes and policies to offer the service that consumers expect for their continued devotion.

More knowledge retention and less budget allocation through blended training
There is no longer a need for 100% of the training to be on-site training instructors, printed materials or lengthy training events. Through smart learning platforms employers can pay less out-of-pocket expenses for implementation and staff training hours. Employees can complete their self-paced training while on a break or while traveling to or from office. Employees are more likely to retain the information in a blended training mode. Blended training can be customized at an individual level according to the areas he/ she needs to progress on.

Easy access to information
Blended training can take place with a flexibility of part of the training happening anywhere, anytime, through mobile learning. Employees can simply access self-paced training modules and learn the steps to better customer servicing. They can log in to the eLearning platforms or applications and learn about compliance updates or refresh their memory regarding new products. All the information is available at their fingertips, giving them the ability to find answers to questions at a moment’s notice. This seamless process allows the employees to work more efficiently. Customized self-paced training offers them on-demand support and assistance.

If a generic comparison among various industry segments is done, retail would be the most dynamic sectors. This dynamism, while being a key differentiator of this sector, often acts as a challenge for the sales force to stay abreast with the latest trends in the industry and this responsibility completely lies on the trainer and the content.

Through training, sales staff learns to identify opportunities and build awareness which is important in the realm of retail. Training enables every retail staff to project themselves as a product ambassador themselves and drive adoption. It also brings standardization and ensures effective implementation of sales & service strategies across the organization by improving efficiency and consistency. By equipping and enabling the retail staff with the required training, organizations can inculcate a growth culture among the employees which in turn will help them in retaining the right talent. Well-trained and ambitious employees are an asset to a company, as with proper training they always aspire to surpass the performance benchmark, hence contributing to the organization’s growth.

Given these myriad benefits of training, it is hard to ignore its role in the overall growth of a brand. Apart from getting convinced on the role and requirement of training, it is also significant to ascertain the various ways of imparting training.

With a highly competitive and constantly evolving state of the retail sector, effective and impactful training has gained supreme importance and is now seen as a ‘much-needed’ long term as well as sustained investment by organizations of all sizes. Training is no more a standalone proposition but has become quite an integral part of the overall retail echo system.

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