Fifty percent of retail workers admit to feeling embarrassed about their lack of product knowledge, a recent survey revealed.
A significant number even admit to having lied to customers to hide their lack of knowledge, according to the research carried out by retail technologists, Red Ant.
It is a worrying trend when the battle for in-store sales is harder than ever and customer expectation is at an all-time high.
With a smartphone in almost every pocket or handbag, shoppers can find product information in the palm of their hand - so why not sales staff?
Some retailers are adopting employee-facing mobile technology to address the problem.
The idea is to have digitally-empowered shop floor staff able to help customers with product information via mobile devices such as tablets.
There are obvious merits but some industry analysts are warning it is not a panacea.
Retail Gazette writer, Veebs Sabharwal, thinks that businesses need to go ‘back to basics’ with their staff training strategy, otherwise sales assistants may simply rely on their hand held devices for product knowledge.
The Red Ant research also flags up training as a worry for retail staff with 57% of shop floor workers saying they aren’t given training before being asked to sell.
It is a real concern, given that the aim is to improve customer service and experience, which surely needs a confident, knowledgeable sales team.
An obvious solution is to blend the learning available to retail workers with shop floor digital support.
Elearning has a significant role to play in delivering effective learning for retail workers and laying the foundations for comprehensive product and skills knowledge.
Using techniques such as games and quizzes, elearning is more likely to help employees remember key facts because it is fun and engaging.
Such interactivity is more likely to result in improved workplace performance that can be measured in terms of happy customers and increased sales.
Product knowledge and skills development can also be tested at the end of an online module to check understanding and encourage improvement, if necessary.
Multi-device elearning is also available using tools such as Adapt so learning can take place on the employee-facing technology now appearing on the high street.
This is particularly useful in minimising the amount of time needed for training away from the shop floor allowing staff to ‘top up’ learning on a tablet or smartphone.
So here’s the vision - a confident retail worker, who has benefited from effective elearning with the added bonus of having mobile in-store technology to support them.
No more avoiding customers, no more dodging product questions. Now that’s a supercharged shop floor.
Author: Kelly Bradley, Solutions Advisor at Sponge