Recently, The Retail Council of Canada, in partnership with WCG International Consultants Ltd., conducted a member survey to identify training and development benchmarks.  The insights from the survey were encouraging, but also show that we have to dig a bit deeper and really take a hard look at what we are doing (and what we’re not doing!) when it comes to delivering training at store level. 

To encourage a little more digging on your part, I thought I’d share some results from the survey, which included a sample of 50 retailers of various sizes across Canada.  The most exciting take-away for me?  Overall, the retailers polled agreed that employee training and development is a key tool they use to improve staff and store effectiveness and to improve employee engagement.  Well that’s a start.  At Graff Retail, we get excited about retailers who believe in training, so this was good news.

But what kind of content do most retailers focus on?  Does your content really improve staff performance with the end result being increased sales?  According to the survey, the focus of training currently being delivered out there is mostly operational in nature with a focus towards policy and procedures and management development…less about selling skills that build a sales culture every retailer is striving to achieve in its stores.

Pat yourself on the back if you already have a sales training program in place; but wait, not so quick…do you know if it’s actually working?  Can you track increases in your key metrics week over week, month over month, year over year?  One thing the survey doesn’t come right out and tell us is how the training is administered.  Is it a “one-hit-wonder” kind of approach where your staff gets all their training up front when they join your team and then it’s never mentioned again?  Or, does your program layer in the training over a longer period of time?  Better yet, is your program more of an ongoing system that keeps your staff continually learning and growing?  As training professionals with award-winning training programs under our belt, we firmly believe in an ongoing approach for long-term, sustainable results. 

I think the idea of developing an ongoing program, whether it be sales training or retail store management training, is daunting for most retailers.  With the pace of retail, how is it possible to keep it going 52 weeks out of the year?  Well, it looks like a little over half of the retailers out there have figured out that a Learning Management System (LMS) or Course Management System (CMS) is the secret to success!  37% of the retailers in the survey also said that while they do develop some of their own content for their e-learning platforms, they do have external training partners that help with e-learning course development.  So, it doesn’t have to be as daunting as you might think to move from your existing paper-based training to an e-learning format and start embracing the idea of continual training and development for your frontline teams! 

The survey was packed with interesting findings that all point to the importance of training in general, but also show a movement towards finding more creative, non-traditional, flexible methods of delivering training.  My hope is that if you haven’t reviewed your existing training program in a while (or you still don’t have any training for your sales and management teams), it’s time to dust off the old training binders and start keeping up with the competition! 

To read the full survey click here.  To discuss a new and improved training program for your stores, click here.

Mary Gordon and Kim McCutcheon have been supporting retail front lines for as long as they can remember. A dynamic duo, Mary and Kim understand what it takes to make training work at store level and know how to inspire, coach and support retail teams in all of their training endeavours.

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