5 Skills Development Essentials for the Retail Industry


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Thursday, November 17, 2022

The retail industry employs a huge amount of people and each one deserves the opportunity to develop and enhance their skills for their personal growth and to support your business goals. A well-developed skills development programme pushes your people to reach and exceed their potential, for the benefit of all.

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5 Skills Development Essentials for the Retail Industry
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The UK retail sector is the largest industry in the country, based on employee numbers. With the changing retail landscape and many companies taking their business online, at least in part, the training you offer to your people is crucial in ensuring their role contributes positively to your business.

Building skills development programmes in the retail sector is a unique process and requires a specific approach focused on the skills and requirements of your individual business. The essentials necessary for your retail business will differ from other industries but also from other businesses within your industry. Building a bespoke skills development programme is the best option to suit your people and your business growth goals.

The importance of skills development programmes

Employee churn is a serious problem in the retail sector, and this is just one issue you can solve, or at least improve on, with high-quality skills development opportunities. LinkedIn research shows companies that invest in their employee learning programmes saw a 53% decrease in employee attrition, and there are other core benefits of skills development programmes, including:

  • Increased employee engagement: Giving your employee focus through highly relevant and engaging skills development opportunities keeps them engaged and interested in their work. New skills are something they want to put into practice.
  • Increased productivity: With a wider range of skills to support better daily work, your people are motivated to perform at the best level and can be confident in their abilities

Skills development programmes in the retail sector can help to make your organisation stand out and position you ahead of your competitors.

Why retail companies should build skills development programmes

The benefits of skills development for your organisation and people shouldn’t be underplayed. The right programmes can help with the following:

  • Increasing turnover
  • Implementing new technologies
  • Role and career flexibility
  • Retaining top talent
  • New employee orientation
  • Acting on employee feedback
  • Product and service quality
  • Change management
  • Cost control measures

These are just some examples of a well-designed skills development programme. It’s an invaluable tool for giving your people the skills they need to perform to their best and meet their individual as well as your organisation's goals.

Many companies provide training for new starters, but a well-designed and ongoing skills development programme empowers sales representatives and other retail employees with continued support and the motivation to succeed. The Aberdeen Group's research shows top-performing companies emphasise ongoing training, and positioning your organisation amongst the best should be a priority.

5 things the retail industry shouldn't neglect when building skills development programmes

There are many essential elements to a good development programme. Here are five essentials you can’t afford to forget to ensure the quality and effectiveness of your retail skills development programme:

1. Good attitudes can't be beaten

A valuable phrase for all HR managers is "hire for attitude, train for skill". This is particularly valuable in the retail sector, where there are many entry-level roles and people with a fantastic attitude and willingness to learn could very quickly become top performers with the right skills training. Hiring trainable individuals should be a priority of all recruiters, and it helps ensure the work environment is full of positive people who want to succeed.

2. Personalised really helps

Getting to know all of your people on an individual basis means you can ensure the training they receive is tailored to their needs and also their preferences. Personalised skills development is much more effective as employees are motivated to learn and recognise the training is relevant to their career progression goals. You can also ensure you choose the most effective methods for each individual, too, as every person has a unique learning style.

3. Aligning training with your business goals

Defining your business goals is crucial for ensuring training is in line with them. If your business goal is opening new stores in new areas then significant focus in your skills training should be on management and supervision, training your people to effectively manage a store when you may not be able to be present. On the other hand, if your operations are moving more towards an ecommerce-first structure then reinforcing your teams' digital skills will be more important.

4. Pinpointing skills gaps

You may have a business with highly qualified, experienced, and motivated teams but there will still be gaps in their knowledge. It’s common for retail organisations to have employees who are experts in one skill area but not as strong in others. You may find company-wide skills gaps, too, giving you a clear focus for your skills development programmes. Some employees may need more direction when it comes to visual merchandising, while others might need a refresher on their product knowledge and sales. Recognising which skill areas are lacking is vital for delivering relevant training.

5. Offer multiple learning tools and methods

We've already highlighted that no two learners have the same approach to skills acquisition, and a well-designed training programme must be reflective of this. People learn and retain information much more successfully if they’re digesting it in a way that engages their brain effectively.

Some learners prefer written materials while others engage better with pictorials and video content. Ask your people what they prefer and ensure your materials reflect their needs. Similarly, consider how you plan to deliver the content. Microlearning and small easy-to-digest modules are often more preferable to long, drawn-out courses that learners may find it hard to engage with.

Reimagining retail skills training

The retail industry employs a huge amount of people and each one deserves the opportunity to develop and enhance their skills for their personal growth and to support your business goals. A well-developed skills development programme pushes your people to reach and exceed their potential, for the benefit of all.

Cornerstone OnDemand

Cornerstone OnDemand (NASDAQ: CSOD) helps organisations to recruit, train and manage their people. We work with hundreds of the world’s largest companies—from Walgreens and Starwood Hotels & Resorts to Deutsche Post DHL and Xerox—and thousands of smaller ones to help them engage their workforces and empower their people. Our software impacts every aspect of the employee experience, helping people to make their best work even better – which ultimately translates into greater business results.


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