The retail services industry has shifted drastically toward a digital marketplace during the past 10 years. And with smartphones in nearly every pocket and computers in most homes, the ability to buy anything with the click of a button has become easier than ever. While these events open the traditional retail model to new opportunities, they also leave it vulnerable to new threats for maintaining market share—specifically, threats centered around convenience and variety.
In this business goal alignment blog post, we'll explore the challenges facing the retail industry and how learning and development can help solve them.
Challenges for Retail Services
According to PwC, “retailers need to strengthen the digital and operations talent in the retailer C-suite to manage shrinking store networks, more complicated supply chains, digital innovation, and launching new services to keep currently loyal customers.”
So, how can L&D help differentiate against the competition while maintaining market share? Think about it. Where change is requested, training is required. Let’s explore a few challenges and examples of how L&D can focus on training that impacts overall business goals.
Remember, first impressions matter, so when attracting a new customer base try focusing on operational excellence and low-friction experiences.Operational Excellence
When customers get the help they need in a timely, friendly manner, they’re more likely to return and refer new customers. So, as a company grows exponentially, it’s critical for customer service reps to stay up to date with both new and current product offerings so customers get exactly what they need. For example:
- L&D works with the product development team to ensure product training is routinely developed, updated, and delivered to customer service and other applicable teams.
- Employees should also be trained on supply chain/inventory software to ensure products are in stock and available for customer purchase online or in person.
- Ensure customers get what they want and when they want it by providing routine customer service training that delves into the customer journey and preferences.
While mobile apps have waned in popularity, consumers frequently rely on their mobile browsers and social media to research products and make purchases. That’s why it’s important to ensure both your desktop and mobile websites meet the needs of your unique customer base.
But your interactive team needs to have consistent training on key personas and the customer journey so they can design a website to keep your customers moving until they complete their purchases (and return for future purchases). For example:
- Products should be organized and displayed by category, size, color, etc., so customers can intuitively find what they need.
- In addition to in-depth product descriptions and complementary images, include interactive elements—such as videos that show how to use a product, or a person modeling a particular outfit.
- Don’t pass up opportunities to upsell. Suggest complementary products to customers.
- Ensure your website is secure so customers feel confident making online purchases.
Instead of completely overhauling your brand, identify areas of your organization that can be tweaked or improved to ensure they align with the customer expectations. Specifically, focus on loyalty, knowledge, and persona.Loyalty
Train employees on loyalty programs and ensure they’re promoting the program to customers. Furthermore, make sure enrolled customers receive proper reward credits for their purchases. This also is a great chance to upsell additional products to customers (e.g., “If you spend $10 more, you’ll receive a free gift.”).Knowledge
According to PwC, during the last five years a significant percentage of global consumers still shop in-store at least once a week. That’s why it’s important for employees to know how to help customers easily find what they want.
Employees should be well versed in customer needs, product availability and inventory (both in other store locations and online), merchandising, and appealing product displays. Employees also should know where products are located, provide basic information about every product, and recommend complementary products to encourage upselling.Persona
Many retailers rely heavily on social media to advertise products and services as well as become a "brand influencer.” But without proper training, employees running social media outlets can cause serious issues. One mistake or poorly worded response can easily be shared with thousands of people in a matter of seconds—and simply deleting a post won’t resolve matters.
Additionally, many social media outlets now offer purchasing options. That's why it’s imperative that employees who manage these accounts understand not only customers’ preferred modes of purchasing via social media, but also how each social media outlet incorporates e-commerce and any associated security risks.
Up Next: L&D Focus on Healthcare
Our next business goal alignment post will explore ways for L&D to align its programs with organizational goals specific to the world of healthcare. And be sure to sign up for Watershed Insights and have the latest posts sent right to your inbox.
About the author
Lizelle Holstein is passionate about using insights from data and analytics to help change the world of corporate learning and development.
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