No one likes to talk about this topic.  It makes everyone feel bad.  When I’m on stage at a conference talking about it, people avoid making eye contact with me.  You can cut the tension in the room with a knife.  It’s the real ‘shame’ of retail.

There has been a lot of press lately highlighting how a number of big name retailers have upped their starting pay rates.  In one case, Starbucks has gone as far as paying 100% of the college tuition for its employees … WELL DONE!

In fact, overall employee management practices have evolved a lot over the past number of years.  Fairer scheduling practices.  Better perks.  Improved benefits.  Enhanced work environments. Higher rates of pay.   All in all, it could be successfully argued that retail employees have it better today than ever before.  And good for them!  

The challenge now for all retailers is to ensure they’re keeping up with what everyone around them is doing. 

Attention all Store Managers!  It's time for some "Spring Training" in your stores! 

Everyone knows how satisfying it is to do spring cleaning around the house, the same can be true about spring training for retailers!  The winter blahs are over and it's time to get the cobwebs out and get back to the basics.

If you're not sure what you need to do to refresh your training and/or performance coaching in the store, here are a few Spring Training Tips that you can start working on right away; even if you don't have a solid sales training program in place yet!

Bricks and Bouquets

There’s no doubt that retail is a lightning rod that attracts so much negative and positive attention alike.  No wonder, it’s likely the most visible industry of all.  We’re all consumers, no matter what we do, and as such find ourselves face to face with the good (and the bad) retailers.

Now it’s my turn to toss a few bouquets for things I see being done exceptionally well by and for retail, and to throw a few bricks at things that continue to annoy customers and lose sales.

What exactly do your Store Managers know about … Managing?

The title of this blog likely gives away where I’m heading with this posting.  But, think about it for a moment.  What have you actually taught them about how to manage the store?

Yes, you’ve likely trained them on a multitude of paperwork related tasks, how to build a schedule (including the essential, ‘don’t you dare go over on hours’ module), merchandising and other basic store requirements.  All good and essential stuff to be certain.

But, ask any Manager what the toughest part of their job is and they’ll almost universally tell you it’s dealing with their staff.  We know that’s true because we surveyed almost 700 Managers a couple of years ago and that’s what they told us.

What's the easiest (and least expensive way) for a retailer to make more sales?  If you're scratching your head to think of an answer or running down to the marketing department to look for the answer, chances are your frontline training program needs an overhaul...or maybe you don't even offer the most important training to your retail teams yet.

Take a look at what's been happening around you these days.  It's amazing isn't it?  The world is moving and changing faster each day.  And the world of retail is desperately doing its best to keep up.  What this means for all of us, as consumers, is that we've never had it so good!

You would have to have been living under a rock not to notice a few major changes happening within the retail marketplace over the past few years, namely:

  1. The level of competition is getting higher and much, much better.
  2. The ‘online’ world is growing, but more impactful than the sales it steals away from brick and mortar stores is the way it educates your consumers.
  3. Your customers are more knowledgeable and demanding than ever before.
  4. Your store staff is much more important today than ever before.

The reality for most retailers is that Traffic is down slightly in most stores due to the increased level of competition and rise in online sales.  And, the customers that are coming into your store have much higher expectations of a shopping experience than ever before.   This puts the pressure squarely on the shoulders of your store staff.

The rise in the popularity of online training, or e-learning, isn't slowing down, especially in the retail sector.  More and more retailers are building their own Learning Management Systems, or using a third party solution, and are looking for more cost effective, sustainable training solutions. Classroom style training or one-on-one job shadowing type training is falling by the wayside.

At Graff Retail, we have been offering online training for retailers since 2009, so we know a thing or two about this approach to training. 

In today’s competitive market place, you need an edge. 

But where do you find it?  Do you just sit around waiting for a magic wand or the perfect merchandise to appear?  Not in this world! 

The answer is actually staring you right in the face ... you must learn from your competitors!

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