Technology is changing retail. The entrance of Amazon into the grocery space, the habits of digital-savvy millennial shoppers and data from new studies, including a 2017 Planet Retail survey report, indicate retailers are poised for technology investment.
Much of that investment will be directed at mobile solutions (phones and tablets for associates, consumer apps, etc.). A 2017 study from the Boston Retail Partners (BRP) reveals 89% of retailers plan to offer mobile solutions to associates within three years.
More Tech Isn’t Enough
Yet the BRP report stresses adoption of mobile solutions is just one tiny step: “retailers often focus on the technical solution and overlook the accompanying process work required to enable a successful implementation. Without proper associate training on new technologies and processes, mobile deployments will not achieve the desired outcomes and will likely frustrate or disappoint customers – a costly mistake.”
Mobile solutions can indeed improve the customer experience. In fact, a 2015 TimeTrade consumer survey concluded 90% of consumers are more likely to buy when helped by a knowledgeable retail associate. Phones and tablets can help boost their know-how. But associate training is the key to taking care of what the BRP report calls “the vast opportunities available through mobile technology.”
Training With the Customer in Mind
When implementing training programs, retailers must repeatedly emphasize to associates they’re being “trained-up” to better serve customers. Here are a few training best practices to keep in mind:
Stress Customer Expectations – Your associates must know shoppers expect them to be knowledgeable. Consumers today carry mobile devices and have instant access to product information; associates need to leverage mobile solutions to be even more informed than shoppers.
Ground Training in Real-World Situations – Shoppers have questions about inventory availability, product location, price reductions, sales and coupons. Demonstrate how associates can use mobile solutions to satisfy customers’ needs.
Use Tablet-Based Training – If you plan to equip your associates with iPads, for example, it makes sense to provide training materials on the same device. Tablet-based training also allows associates to remain on the sales floor and train during downtime, again, reinforcing the importance of serving customers first.
Connect-the-Dots for Associates – Retailers today have a number of options for “wiring up” their stores: whether it is inventory robots to automate planogram compliance or Digimarc Barcode for easier checkout, make sure associates—no matter what their role—understand the big picture of what has been implemented, and why it matters for shoppers.