The What, Why, and How of Retail Learning and Development

The What Why and How of Successful Retail Learning and Development blog image

Things move pretty fast in retail. Staying ahead of the latest trends, consumer desires, and market shifts means employees need to stay up to speed in the blink of an eye. Commerce and technology are adding pressure to these challenges as they seem to evolve daily. This is why it’s critical to not only have robust retail store training but also a learning and development strategy (L&D) that encourages instant learning for your frontline workers on the retail floor.

What? Transforming L&D to Retail Training Programs

You want your retail education and training to definitely include skills training because customer service, communication, and problem-solving are all important. But retail employees today want more and traditional L&D approaches such as e-Learning in the managers’ office are not getting the job done. They’re looking for a company and a job where they have the tools to be instantly successful at their job from the very first minute that they walk into your store. This confidence will give them a reason to stay and give them a career path for rewarding work. 

This is where transforming learning and development comes into play. 

L&D is focused on long-term growth, and for this employees need to see future opportunities with your company. But, if they quit after their first shift, they will never have a chance at that long-term growth. They need to be successful now, which is why many retailers are transforming their L&D strategy to bring learning and knowledge to their employees with quick reference, bite-sized training and reference material, available at their fingertips through powerful search, on their phone or a tablet. And when you’re looking at a retail learning and development strategy, it’s what will engage the best talent out there because that’s what they want more than cash or bonuses: immediate success on the job and a meaningful job with room for growth.

This is where you begin to develop your brand evangelists too. Retail education and training should also seek to immerse new employees in your company culture. It’s what makes work more meaningful and helps them to feel like they’re part of something bigger. 

Why? Adding Value to Your Business

Retail store training that also includes an L&D strategy, can add enormous value to your business. Because turnover rates are so high, it’s critical to do whatever possible to keep employees happy. The worst thing that can happen is your company spending time and money to recruit, onboard, and train a new employee who quits after two weeks and does not provide any business return. This drives up labor costs, leaves your store management stressed out, and puts more pressure on remaining employees to do more work and cover more shifts. Engaging employees with onboarding and training in the flow of their work day gets them confident and productive faster while increasing sales and customer satisfaction much faster.  

Comprehensive L&D also fosters team building and communication. New hires can get up to speed quickly and everyone has a consistent foundation of what’s expected and what needs to be done which drives better brand consistency across all of your stores. 

At the same time, L&D content becomes a reusable knowledge base that you can leverage for seasonal employee training or internal promotion to meet the needs of any learning style. With the right learning technology, you can also update it as often as you need to and make it available to all locations and employees on any mobile device.

How? Understanding Modern L&D Technology

Gone are the days of cumbersome eLearning classes and virtual classroom training that takes hours, bores employees silly, and is ineffective at learning retention. Modern learning technology for retail should have intuitive, rapid authoring capabilities that cut training and content creation time by 30 to 60% which increases agility. You should also look for technology that offers self-paced,  multi-step learning paths for training on new concepts and the ability for workers to quickly find bite-sized training they need, learn what they need quickly, and immediately do what they just learned while they are on the job. Modern learning technology can also digitize shoulder-to-shoulder training, and provide interactive diagrams and videos and employees task lists with embedded training. All of this should be easily available on a mobile device so it is accessible at any time during a shift and anywhere in the store.  

The beauty is you don’t need huge IT budgets either. You want to make sure your technology delivers the learning your employees need to grow, provides easy content authoring tools, is available on any device, and drives business performance.