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What are your experiences of L&D in retail?

Is retail the worst industry to train people?

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We've covered it a bit in previous discussions, but seeing as L&D can change so much depending on both org size and industry, I wondered if retail was potentially the most difficult to get engagement from trainees, seeing as the roles are so stressful and seen as quite transient if customer-facing.

The fact that many retailers have recently been involved in scandals in the press over working hours, conditions and pay surely only adds to the problem? But what are your experiences? Does the changeable and competitive nature of retail make it more exciting for L&D, or the opposite?

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13th Oct 2016 08:22

I've never trained in Retail but I have worked in it and I would say, in my experience, it's one of the easiest industries to train in. I say that in comparison to other industries I've worked in; Financial Services and the Energy Industry which are far tougher in my opinion.
Why? well if you have clear customer service values, brand prop etc and managers role model them and engage then you should be fine. Customer transactions are much more simple in Retail too - your customer purchases some goods and gives you a form of payment there and then.
The other industries I mention have much more complex Customer Service challenges, much more complex IT system challenges and on top of that much more in the way of legal compliance and social obligations. They too are quite transient industries with the need to offer services outside of a traditional 9-5; lots of jobs are now contact centre based which tends to be one of the most transient types of roles. Those industries are also massively competitive.
Yes, in my mind, Retail is much less complex than other industries - in my experience.

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to clive boorman
13th Oct 2016 09:40

Thanks Clive, it's good to have the comparison there - I can definitely see how both of those industries would present much more of a challenge, and I hadn't considered that the transactions are more straightforward to train on too, as well as having clearer branding & values than some other industries. Thanks, as ever, for your input - always appreciated :)

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13th Oct 2016 10:34

Hi Shonette
I think the retail scene is one which is characterised by real polarity.

I have worked with major retailers in the past where the focus of learning has been exceptional - both store based and group based. Especially important for many has been induction/customer service and product knowledge.

In a major supermarket chain induction and initial customer service training I worked on became a great blend of face to face, online and on the job activities with a clear but simple workbook looking at core components of the role. The time pressures (the training department paid the wages of all shop floor staff who were engaged in training activities - a real route to gaining focus - we only scheduled off the job training when it was the most efficient or only option), the dynamism of change and the need to deliver training to staff from PhD students to those with low literacy levels, became a fabulous challenge. It was - as your question suggests - an exciting environment in which to work.

In an electronics retailer I worked with, the product knowledge capability of staff needed to go beyond the product specification information on various websites and provide genuine advice and support - otherwise why would the customer buy from the store when there are deals to be had online? The training therefore needs to ensure that all product training is informed by customer understanding, addressing customer needs and requirements and providing appropriate advice which enhances the customer experience. Product knowledge is - in some respects - a hygiene factor. Without the customer/consumer focus the sales person becomes a talking product directory repeating half remembered facts which a customer may well have already researched before entering the store.

Retail training, therefore, is as much about the organisational values and how they are manifest in those all important customer touchpoints than it is about how to operate a cash register or display a product or stack a shelf. That stuff is fun to do and be involved in. I have never laughed as much during a training session I was running than when trying to work in a pretty crowded meeting room, above a high street shoe store with a mixed group of customer facing staff sharing space with mannequins, stock returns and the fax machine.

As you allude to in your question, however, where the service provided to staff by the organisation is sub-standard - zero-hours contracts, low pay, draconian discipline - then the service provided to customers is hardly likely to be a manifestation of positive values. As a consumer, you can tell when your are in a store in which people feel valued and respected as colleagues and co-workers and when they are looked down on, harassed and desperately wanting to get out. Whenever we do in training ain't going to change that culture.

Unfortunately, many management teams in certain retail chains just don't seem to live the values they expect their staff to display.

When we move into online retail in some of the cases you have highlighted about poor conditions, pay and working practices, I'm afraid that L&D is seen as another arm of the machine which supports, condones or actively encourages bad practice. Where we have MPs talking about conditions being akin to a Victorian Workhouse, it seems that there is little likelihood that any good, values driven or meaningful L&D activity is going on beyond instructing staff in all the behaviours which they should avoid if they don't want to be sacked.

As an industry, we should be calling out these employment practices as demonstrably harmful to the learning environments we would want to foster.

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to robinhoyle
13th Oct 2016 11:55

Thanks Robin - your examples demonstrate just how varied this industry can be, and it's a good point that L&D can't alter a culture and bad behaviour already set in place by management.
I suppose retail gets called out more often than most industries for poor working conditions mainly due to the well-known nature of the brands involved, as well as the effects being more visible to customers.

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23rd Nov 2016 11:53

I agree with the comments already made.

I ve worked in retail in supermarkets and department stores. T & D is no more challenging than in any other industry. Customer loyalty is key in both sectors of retail so emphasis on customer service training is paramount, simply because it's easy for customers to shop elsewhere (competiors are either next door; or a short drive away).

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02nd Mar 2018 10:01

I have working experience int the past with major retailers where the central focus of studying and learning has been exceptional on both store based and group based. In a big supermarket chain induction and initial customer service training I have worked there a great blend of face to face, online and on the job activities with a clear but simple workbook looking at core components of the role. The training campaign needs to ensure that all product training is informed by customer understanding, addressing essay help customer needs and requirements and providing appropriate advice which enhances the customer experience.
Unfortunately, many management teams in certain retail chains just don't seem to live the values they expect their staff to display. As a consumer, you can tell when your are in a store in which people feel valued and respected as colleagues and co-workers and when they are looked down on, harassed and desperately wanting to get out. Whenever we do in training ain't going to change that culture.

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By Hicinko
09th Mar 2018 09:23

It's a new concept and seems to be quite interesting and accordingly the more we get to know about any topic the more we are capable of making money out of it.

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09th Oct 2018 07:38

I worked with retail managers and they had exactly the same problems as other managers with the added challenge of having to do most of their work in the open on the shop floor which is ideal for all of the latest L&D best practises, bite sized, mobile etc.
As a shopper the big area that needs to be addressed for most outlets but clothing and electronics seem to be the worst is active listening, or even any level of listening. when asked if I need help and I answer no why do assistants continue to follow me around suggesting great things?

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01st Nov 2018 10:37

While online retailers such as Amazon and ASOS were excellent online winners, many traditional retailers have struggled to make their way into the modern world, and many of them have been permanently lost in the industry. main Street. In the United Kingdom, 5,855 points of sale were closed in 2017, of which 1,772 stores are completely absent. The United States also expects a record year to close the commercial space.

At a distance, the solution may be to become an online business, but it will be a simplification of the problem.

Retailers still recognize the enormous value of physical shopping and, in my experience at Disney, we are never talking about the digital replacement of the physical experience, but how they will continue to merge to create a unique experience. memorable.

Manpower has been sidelined and technology driven marketing is the modern day adaptation in retail businesses. As a result of this, retail business SMS marketing has pronounced itself as a driving force.

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By Padds
23rd Apr 2019 20:51

Hi

I am new on here but would love to hear your advise and input on something.
I have been a retail manager for 30 years and one key aspect in which I enjoy and have a passion for is training others to achieve their goals and advance in their career.
I would love to get into training particularly in retail and pass on my skills to the next professional generation, I am in the process of completing a level 3 award in Education and Training, I have found a vacancy which I find extremely interesting and want to apply for it, but there is a question on there which I am not too sure how to answer, a little guidance and expertise from any of you would be greatly appreciated, the question is 'Please describe how your experience in this role matches the job you are applying for. Think about how the experience you've gained would help you be successful in performing your duties'. The role I wish to apply for is a Retail Trainer, I have vast experience in Retail Management where I can pass on my knowledge, which is one of the requirements of the vacancy, but I really am not sure how to answer the question, any ideas? Your help would be greatly appreciated.

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