Retail industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in India and also one of the biggest employers. Such growth also comes with its own set of challenges, the biggest being that of skilling the retail workforce in the most efficient manner possible.
Along with this, the second challenge facing this industry is the high rate of employee turnover. Employees don’t feel engaged enough to stick around for the long run. Retail jobs are referred to as dead end and boring. This can be changed if efforts are made towards engaging the young workforce in this sector. However, skilling such a large workforce is a huge challenge in itself because of rapidly changing product offerings and the pressing need of providing information at the moment of need. At the same time, these employees are spread across geography, with different educational qualifications, language preferences and cultural differences. How does one conduct uniform training is such a context?
Because of the high turnover rates, training also cannot extend for longer duration and needs to be quick and efficient. Long and boring classroom sessions also are not the greatest desire of the young and millennial retail workforce who work under tight deadlines and strict targets. They need to be presented with training solutions that solve their unique problems and give them the information they want to learn.
Mobile devices are an integral part of life today. Access to the internet is affordable and preferred by everyone. Any kind of information can be accessed in a few seconds from a mobile device, irrespective of time or location. So much addiction to a mobile screen also presents a lot of opportunity for making learning in retail organizations a successful program. Training also needs to keep up with this rising trend in the manufacture and use of mobile devices. Fortunately, there is a way that helps conduct uniform training across a distributed retail workforce in a cost effective way. The answer is microlearning.
Microlearning offers training in smaller bits with the help of interactive elements such as videos, podcasts, images, quizzes etc. It increases the natural curiosity levels present in each learner and motivates him or her to work harder towards achieving goals. Through customized learning paths for each learner, microlearning offers training in a relaxed and informal environment and does not force anything on the learner. Microlearning is already being used as a tool to train the vast workforce and engagement levels have seen an increase.
Below are some examples of retail training programs that can be supported with microlearning aids:
1. Sales techniques
Retail is all about the sales. And making a successful sale is a skill that one learns with time. However, taking the right steps towards achieving this objective is extremely critical, especially for sales people who are very early in their career. Making a sale is the last step of a sales process, each of which needs to be understood with precision and clarity. And there is no better way to do this than with real-life examples.
Microlearning can enable retail staff to understand the various nuances of sales techniques through practical scenarios that they can relate to. For example, through step by step scenario based learning, the various parts of a sales process can be explained to the learner. For example, concepts such as up selling and cross selling can be explained in detail through real people and real examples. Such engaging dialogue pieces can help the learner relate to his daily life experiences with different customers and not something totally out of the blue. It can also teach the learner how upselling or cross selling actually takes place on the shop floor.
2. Customer service
Customer service continues to remain as one of the key competitive advantages that differentiate the best brands from the average ones. Traditional classroom scenarios explain concepts of great customer service through dry ppt’s and in a single go. Elements of customer service such as proper communication, body language, listening to their needs etc. are explained are told to the learners. This makes the entire process very boring and retaining such concepts without any practice becomes a rarity.
Through microlearning, each and every nuanced concept of customer service can be explained through role plays and scenarios. Trainers can actually show the learners how they are supposed to greet customers, how to handle different customer profiles, how to communicate the customer and make them feel valued, etc.
3. Store operations
A store does not function in vacuum. To keep it running efficiently, a lot of day to day tasks need to be handled. And the store executives are the people who handle it. Just telling the staff what needs to be done will not help them do their best when it comes to store maintenance.
Microlearning breaks such critical information regarding store operations into smaller chunks. It does not present everything in one go but carefully repeats the same information in order to reinforce the details in the minds of the staff. Important concepts such as cash handling, loss prevention, receiving delivery of goods from the warehouse, POS procedures and store cleanliness can be informed via in-action scenarios.
4. Product knowledge
A successful sale can only happen when all the questions of a highly informed and well-aware customer are answered with confidence and convincement. Before making a purchase, customers ask a lot of questions and compare the product with the competitor brands. In order to make a sale, having in-depth product knowledge is a must. This need gets even more challenging as retail sees 1000+ new product launches every month. New categories and variants of each brand are introduced every now and then.
How can organizations ensure that their staff remember details about the entire product range? Sending ppt’s or conducting one-time sessions will not help staff retain any of the information. Microlearning can make it easy for retail staff to learn and retain new product updates and knowledge.With carefully planned continuous deployment of product updates with spaced learning technique, learners can retain the information and also quickly glance through it as and when they want.
5. Visual merchandising
Attractive visual merchandising plays a huge role in escalating sales of brands. Knowing how to present products in a way that attracts customers has become absolutely critical in today’s retail world. Techniques of effective visual merchandising cannot be told. They need to be shown and experienced for deeper understanding.
Breaking every process of visual merchandising into smaller chunks and repeating it through continuous snippets get enable better learning. For example, the process of dressing a mannequin can be broken down into several parts – which part to dress first, when to do the zips and buttons, which part to dismantle first. All of these can be explained through scenarios and tested through visual questions.
Before using any of these techniques, make sure you first understand your audience. Conducting pre training assessments help organizations understand where knowledge gaps exist and what kind of content needs to be delivered to each learner. At the end of it, the performance and engagement metrics can further help organizations improve their training programs for even better outcomes.