Modern Workplace Learning in Retail

There are more than 13 million people working in retail in the United States today, representing an industry which saw total sales hit $4.846 trillion in 2016.

But the retail industry as we know it is in crisis. From new online competitors to changing consumer demographics, retailers large and small are being forced to reinvent themselves to survive and compete.

Outside of external challenges presented by large ecommerce players, one of retail’s greatest obstacles originates from within—staff dissatisfaction and apathy. The industry suffers from a turnover rate of 35%. Retail organizations lose up to 236 million productive days to turnover and approximately $19B in costs to hire and train new staff. And in an industry that revolves around customer experience, much more is being lost due to declining consumer satisfaction and brand equity.

To overcome its challenges, the retail industry must not only completely rethink its business model but also its approach to staff learning development.

For years, retail has relied on tried and true training methods. But traditional learning approaches such as checklists, reading and workbooks, classroom seminars, and on-the-job shadowing on topics such as “Five Steps to Customer Service” simply aren’t cutting it anymore.

Highly-engaged employees typically deliver fantastic customer service. They also have the potential to become a retailer’s best brand ambassador. However, the retail industry’s homogeneous training strategy, which uses dated delivery methods and treats every individual the same regardless of their experience or past knowledge, is undermining the potential for staff engagement.

  • Well-established retailers are 21% more likely to report a talent shortage compared to Internet-age retailers.
  • Well-established retailers are also 11% less likely to believe they have the right people in their organization to address evolving customer and talent demands.
  • Only 1% of well-established retailers strongly agree that they encourage employees to experiment with new technologies.
  • 76% of retailers believe well-trained and loyal in-store employees empowered by technology are key to long-term survival.
  • 24% of well-established retailers are less likely to invest in employee learning.

Top operational challenges for retailers

49%

Maintaining in-store processes/training in a high employee turnover environment

45%

The need for more consistent execution/employee productivity

43%

The need to improve customer service while holding the line on payroll costs

43%

Customer complaints about in-store service

42%

Hiring good people

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