On-the-job Performance

3 ways to enable your retail frontline to get things done (no matter what!)

Posted on: October 24, 2023Updated on: April 16, 2024By: Maliyah Bernard

Every retailer wants and needs a frontline team that gets things done as effectively and efficiently as possible. But with major disruptors at play—economic instability, theft, violence and safety concerns, to name a few—it’s becoming increasingly difficult to get teams to perform at scale consistently.

Earlier this month, we joined our partners at SAP for a roundtable discussion during the Firestarters Consumer Industries Forum to share approaches to enabling associates and managers to face these disruptors head-on.

SAP Firestarters Forum panelists

The panel consisted of Kati Shields (Manager of Retail Learning and Initiatives at Wakefern Food Corp.), Amy Dicks (Director of Knowledge Management, Channel Enablement at goeasy Ltd.) and Amy Turner (former Digital Innovation Lead, Learning & Development at Merck). They sat down for a session moderated by JD Dillon, Axonify’s Chief Learning Architect, for a focused look at how retailers can transform their enablement strategies so teams perform at their best. 

Dig into 3 key tactics that emerged from the panel for how to drive effective retail enablement. 

1. Deliver personalized experiences—and not just to your customers

Although customers love to know that you’re willing to go out of your way to create a great experience for them, they’re not the only people in your stores who want to feel that they matter.

Retail associates should also be getting right-fit support that acknowledges their changing needs and sets them up for success from day one. Personalizing their learning journey shows associates you’re invested in the quality of their individual learning and development path and ensures every training experience is meaningful and relevant. The same can’t always be said for one-size-fits-all approaches.

2. Prepare your frontline for current challenges

40% of today’s associates feel scared to go to work due to an increase in hostile and violent situations with customers. Does that statistic feel alarming? It should.

Unfortunately, many associates (36%) have been left to fend for themselves, without the right training, direction or skills development from their employers to understand how to manage these difficult scenarios safely. Proper and proactive preparation through training and enablement can help to make teams feel supported, seen and safe.

3. Don’t allow transformation to become another disruptor

Too often, organizations rush towards transformation and forget to bring along the people who will actually be executing their strategy—their associates. Then transformation becomes disruption due to a lack of readiness and preparation. 

Instead, the Firestarters Forum panelists urged retailers to consider the frontline early and often. Whenever possible, it’s crucial to find ways to make employees part of the transformation planning process so they can offer feedback or make suggestions that can be incorporated before it’s too late.

The moral of the story? You can have great plans, great tech and enthusiastic exec buy-in, but without a confident and capable retail team that’s enabled for success, your desired outcomes will always remain out of reach.

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Maliyah Bernard

Maliyah Bernard is an academic writer turned content writer. As a former frontline worker, she loves writing about all the ways organizations can support these essential workers smarter.

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