Everyone always talks about how fast retail is changing.  That’s true.  But, what’s equally true is that some things just never seem to change.  Consider these never-changing issues:

Kevin said it best from the main stage at the Retail Council of Canada Human Resources Conference yesterday.  “This is the Golden Age of HR in Retail.”  As Kevin opened the Conference and listed off some of the hot topics for 2017 (Diversity & Inclusion: Gender Transition in the Workplace, Mental Health in the Workplace, Legalized Marijuana: How to Prepare to Manage it in the Workplace), just to name a few, it was glaringly clear that times they are a changing…and as Retailers, we have to be aware, informed and nimble to change with them! 

If you missed the Conference this year, here a few things I learned:

There are a lot of new entrepreneurs in the retail space, along with new and innovative concepts.  Some we call Disruptors that are forever changing the way we meet our customer’s needs, the way we interact with customers and the way we engage our employees. These companies are improving both the customer and employee experience.  Many of these are e-commerce concepts (they get most of the press).  But let's not forget there are shining examples of new and exciting brick and mortar retailers who are hitting it out of the park (take a look at Saje, The Ten Spot, Brika, Rent frock Repeat, GotStyle … I'll be moderating an exciting panel discussion with them at STORE 2017).

If there’s one thing retailers are typically good at it’s Store Operations.   There’s a checklist, process map or log book for just about everything.  Heck, the industry has even created task management software that resides in the cloud!   In a nutshell, retail is very good at the A + B + C = D stuff.

Another thing retail is very good at is promoting people from within.  It’s one of the great things about retail.  You can start out as a salesperson and before you know it you’re running a store or even a territory of stores.  Most of the VPs come from the stores too.   That produces a lot of consistent know-how across the organization when it comes to running the stores.

Therein lies the problem though.  We’re really good at managing.  But, there’s a lack of Leadership in most stores, territories and even senior management at times.

What does it take to roll out a great training program at store level?  Better yet, what does it take to sustain a great training program at store level?  Do you have the answer on the tip of your tongue?  Don’t fret, from what I can tell, the majority of retailers out there don’t have the answers to these questions either. 

Ok.  Here’s an easier question.  What gets in the way of training success at store level?  I bet you can rattle off a bunch of ‘retail realities’ that interfere with training.

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!

Every quarter they arrive like clockwork.  Your sales plan for each month and week.  Descending from upon high, they become the gospel upon which schedules, incentives and more are based upon.  What you need to know is that more often than not, these sales plans curse you to a life of complacency and mediocrity.

We’ve been seeing it the last 5 years (at least!).  Every retail Industry trade show out there has a technology twist; so much so that we joke that there aren’t any retail-specific trade events left out there…they’ve all morphed into full-on technology shows!  That speaks volumes about our wonderful industry which has consistently been a frontrunner when it comes to adopting technology, especially when it comes to social technologies. 

The link between the retail sector and social media cannot be denied.  So, no matter what stage you are at with your social efforts our customers and employees choose social as their media of choice.  It’s time to build social media success into your overall strategy!   In fact, at Graff Retail, we’re committing to it in a more meaningful way this year (finally!).

Socially speaking, what are you doing?

I have been hearing a lot of complaining lately about 'the younger generation' and the 'older generation' in the workplace.  It’s time to stop the complaining and begin to understand.

Think about it:  We spend a lot of time asking our customers questions in order to determine their needs and we spend time actively listening so that we can best meet those needs.  However, why is it that when it comes to our front line staff, we spend more time pushing information and even less time listening?

Shouldn't we understand our staff as well as we understand our customers if we want to engage them?

Shouldn't we spend more time asking THEM questions? 

Is finding and developing the 'right' store staff such a big deal? Doesn't your format and merchandise do all the real selling, while employees are just there to receive your customer's cash? Before you get too far down this line of thinking, consider the following list of questions, designed to challenge your assumptions:

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