Retail Training Realities: Holiday Frustration Station

We’ve all done it. Walked into a retail store, inquired about product XYZ in the days leading up to the holidays only to get a blank stare from an associate that looks like she’s 12 or had to ask a question about the return policy three times, only to get three different answers.

How about my personal favourite: Associates who try to get you the right answer but have to ditch the cash register to ask 5 different people on what the correct answer is, bottlenecking the endless lineup behind you and maybe even earning you a dirty look or two in the process. Don’t you love holiday shopping?!

This is what I like to call, the holiday frustration station. No, I’m not talking about that place that wraps your gifts for a fee. It’s the cash register and the sales floor of some of your favourite stores, staffed by newly hired (and usually under-trained) seasonal staff.

Today officially kicks off one of the biggest retail events of the year, and although online services like Amazon have gained considerable traction over the last few years, nothing beats a good old fashioned stroll through the mall.

Whether it’s for the deal hunting or the people watching, consumers everywhere are already putting together their wish lists and gearing up for their share of holiday shopping madness, and they’re not alone. Retailers too are ramping up with punchy ad campaigns, stocked up warehouses and most importantly lining up the people who make it all happen.

Seasonal temp staff play a critical role in making holiday shopping experiences unique, memorable and profitable. In doing this, retailers face a serious uphill battle with limited time and resources. Bringing new talent up to speed on policies, processes and procedures while maintaining service levels and sales goals is mission critical for the collective success of retail organizations, especially in Q4.

Creating a retail training program tailored specifically for seasonal workers is a step in the right direction, but ensuring that such training is feasible, relevant and effective is another. Retail managers know that lining up start dates to coincide for training is difficult enough, and take home binders rarely get completed beyond the first page. This is where costly on-the-job training becomes a last resort and minimizing operational errors and impacts on the day-to-day workflow becomes next to impossible.

Implementing a retail training program that is not only tailored but also measurable, self-served and intrinsically motivating is the answer to keeping essential operational knowledge top of mind throughout the holiday season. From correctly applying multiple discounts to reporting inventory shrink, it is the little things that tend to slip through the cracks. It is these slips that can put a serious dent in your P&L.

When push comes to shove, how do you know your retail team is willing and able to deal with the threat of inventory shrink, demanding customers and new team member dynamics?

Let us know your thoughts and tweet at us @VedRistic or @Axonify.

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