Why Retail Training is a Must (For Retailers and Suppliers)
No matter who you are, if you work in the retail industry, you’ll benefit from enrolling in, and completing, a retail training course. Of course, that much should be obvious - if you’re a retailer who wants to improve your business, you need to find ways to do this. The same goes for if you’re a supplier.
Of course, you do need to select a retail training course that works for you, and that helps you achieve your goals. After all, it doesn’t help that you enrol in just any old course.
As a side note, if you’re currently looking to enrol in a course, but you’re unsure of whether a specific course is worth doing or not, then you should read this piece about what you should expect from a quality course.
That aside, there are many reasons why you, as a retailer or supplier, should enrol in a retail course.
Retail training is a must for retailers because ...
1. … knowledgeable staff leads to better customer service
Excellent customer service goes a long way to please your customers. In fact, we could even argue that as long as your customer support is exceptional, it wouldn’t matter if you don’t have a product in stock. If you serve shoppers with a smile and connect with them, they’ll most likely forgive you and return in the future. That’s not the case if your service is terrible or non-existent.
Let’s use an example to illustrate the point further.
Have you ever walked into a store and needed help finding information on a product but whoever you approach on the floor can’t help you solve your problem? It’s frustrating and ruins the whole shopping experience. In fact, the chances are high that you’ve thought about walking out with the contemplation of not returning.
Of course, we’re not laying any blame on that staff member. It’s not reasonable to think that someone wants to give lousy service on purpose. However, if they had undergone specific retail training to help them handle yours or any other customers query, they wouldn’t be on the back foot. That means less frustration for you. Also, you’d consider returning since you’d had a half decent experience.
That speaks to the point we made in a previous piece about why good product knowledge is crucial to your store’s success. There’s also the fact that little to no customer service is one of the main frustrations of modern-day shoppers.
2. … upskilling your staff means they can contribute to your bottom line
While upskilling your staff can lead to better overall customer service, it’s just as essential to help them to contribute to your bottom line.
Let us explain:
When any of your team has a big picture view of the retail industry and how their specific role can help your store see success, they understand why they are significant to the whole process. More than that, if you’re trained them up, you’ll have an extra pair of eyes on the floor.
For example, they’ll be able to spot merchandising errors, such as the fact that products aren’t in the right area. If there is a mistake, they can assist so that your customers can find what they want quickly and purchase it. If your customer can buy easily, they’ll return which means more sales and profit for your stores.
Let’s take DotActiv Academy as an example. One of the courses you can enrol in teaches advanced merchandising and display principles. As part of this retail training course, you learn why it’s vital to place specific products in specific locations. More than that, you can learn the merchandising principles that will entice your customers to purchase.
Of course, it’s also not just about your store staff. It’s just as crucial to upskill those of your employees who work at your Head Office. After all, many are involved in planning that filters down to store level.
How can you expect someone to plan effectively if they don’t understand the basic principles of what it is they’re planning?
3. … investing in your staff can boost their morale
As much as we've been talking about how enrolling your staff in retail training helps your business improve, it's also worth looking at how it benefits your team.
The most obvious benefit is that it can boost their morale. You only have to put yourself in the shoes of your floor staff or anyone else in your employ. How would you feel when your employer says they want to give you extra training to help you to do your job better?
For one, you’d feel supported and valued. You also might consider staying longer than you initially intended since your employers have invested in your career.
Of course, it’s more than just feeling valued. A direct result of such support is that you’d want to show appreciation so you would try and do better at your job. That means your staff are more likely to want to take ownership and pride in their work. It goes back to our above point about contributing to your bottom line. By knowing that they can make a difference, they’ll be more likely to strive to do more.
There is also the fact that by investing in your staff, you give them an opportunity to become an expert in their specific field. While they benefit by adding these extra skills to their CV, your business benefits too.
Retail training is a must for suppliers because ...
1. … it can help you become a category captain
A category captain is a person or supplier appointed by a retailer as their preferred provider for a specific retail category. That should be enough to persuade you why it's worth becoming one. You can influence the strategy of your product grouping at retail level.
That said, in many cases, if you want to become one, one of the requirements would be that you need to undergo specific retail training. In fact, it should be required. After all, a retailer wants to know that a supplier who is taking part in the category management process is knowledgeable.
Let’s look at what you need to know to become a Category Captain, for example.
For one, you need to know how to cluster stores, clean and analyse data, recognise and apply merchandising principles, post planogram performance reviews by store or cluster and complete category reviews with buyers. That’s not achievable without some form of training.
Then there is the fact that you need to understand inventory, stock turns, shopper behaviour and more. Since a category captain looks after the entire wellbeing and performance of a category, you’d also need to know what is happening within the product grouping and why, so that you can correct any problems should there be any.
If you’re keen on fulfilling this role, it’s worth reading this piece on how to become one. It also details, amongst other things, the essential characteristics of a suitable category captain.
2. … it can help you to provide better advice (when not a category captain)
The reality is this: not all suppliers can become category captains. That said, it doesn’t diminish your role as a supplier. After all, just because you aren’t a category captain that doesn’t mean that you can turn a blind eye to what’s happening around you.
In fact, it’s perhaps even more vital that you pay attention and keep the category captain on their toes so that they are doing their job correctly and for the overall benefit of the category. That includes giving your products the space that they deserve and treating everyone fairly.
There is also the point that a retailer might choose to take a collaborative approach to category management. In that case, you’ll be working with many different suppliers, and it’s crucial that you understand how to work alongside them. As a side note, this need to work hand in hand with suppliers also happens within Category Captaincy.
There is also the point that you never know what might happen. If you focus on working hard enough and providing value in everything you do, you could eventually become a category captain. That’s especially true if a retailer decides to review all of their suppliers and finds that the category captain they chose for your product grouping isn’t doing the job as well as initially expected.
By investing in retail training, you can show yourself as ready to fulfil the position if needed. As a side note, it’s worth training yourself up as if you were a category captain anyway so that you can add value wherever you work even if you don’t become one. After all, a healthy, profit-generating category in-store means a healthy business for you too.
3. … it can help you to improve your relationship with retailers
In any business relationship, you are going to leverage the skill set of the people that you do business with.
Retailer-supplier relationships are no different. As stated above, a retailer expects you, as a supplier, to know what needs to be done for a category in question to grow. That’s regardless of if you’re a category captain or not.
In turn, as a supplier, you’d expect retailers to know how to manage supplier relationships professionally and fairly.
So where could a retail course help you as a supplier?
Simple: since you’ll have a view of retail from a specific point of view, it’s entirely possible (but not always probable) that you might not consider yourself from a retailer’s point of view. A basic introduction to retail would thus give you the right level of information required to be brought into the retailer’s world and have a seat at the table.
Not only would it give you a better understanding of their priorities but you’ll also be able to align with them. In doing so, you’re actively setting out to improve your relationship with them. More than that, you’re showing a retailer that you’re serious about providing them with more than just a product.