6 Replies
Bob S

Hi Laura, 

This can be a really big topic, but guessing you already know that. Here are a couple of things you might want to keep in mind...

Typically retail sales folks are either part-time or have varied schedules. And of course there is not a lot of "office time" for them either. Therefore retail onboarding that can be done in short pieces but also has a theme/thread to tie it together often works well.  Think about themes like a journey/trip/treasure hunt/world tour/etc  that fit into the business vibe and create a sense of continuity over an extended timeframe.

Consistency of execution is always a challenge at Retail. Therefore assume nothing. Strong use of checklists and prescribed off-line activities are the way to go. These help ensure the experience is more uniform and key pieces do not get missed or colored too much.

Be sure to include lots of self-directed activities. Matching schedules of managers/trainers to retail sales folks can be challenging so be sure there are non-linear activities the learner can move on to if the manager is not available to check off on the previous pieces. Some programs actually have these pieces set aside outside the linear learning path just to act as a time cushion.

Create milestone. Because they are unlikely to complete it all at once (see points above), it's important for both learner and manager to have a sense of where they stand in the process vs a suggested timeline. As hiring dates for retail are variable, use a 10 day, 30 day, etc format rather than hard dates.

Blended learning is great. But be realistic about how much time is involved with in-person learning and the logistics required for Retail.  Instead, focusing on "observations" after the self-directed lessons is often a great choice. This allows the learner to practice what they just learned and  someone experienced to check off that they did so (and hopefully provide feedback!).

Finally... remember that in most retail the need to serve customers will ALWAYS trump whatever learning plan is in place.  So be very realistic with the actual time involved to complete activities and the total time commitment end-to-end.  If the store is busy, they are going to be on the floor... period. Regardless of what the program says.  So build that thinking into your expectations.

Hope this helps and good luck!

Jeffrey Riley

Bob those are good and realistic ideas.

We are revamping our sales associate training and working to set the training from the learner's point of view NOT the trainers.

We are asking ourselves, what must they know to work that first day? More or less, what is 80% of what they need to know? You cannot give someone 30 years of experience in one day!

As Bob said above, serving the customer is first. Training has to fit short time frames and easy to pickup from where they left off. That is why we are thinking tablets and not PCs.

We are also working to set manager expectations. Since the new hire cannot learn it all at once, how much will they learn each shift? Again, what is most important etc. We have to think compliance as we are convenience stores and have a lot of environmental training, age restricted sales, money orders (think money laundering), and so on before they can even be on the floor.

I agree on the blended learning Bob discusses. We are kind of flipping the classroom and after the trainee views information on eLearning, we ask them to point out in the store what works or does not work. They have to explain what they just viewed in their own words. The manager decides if they hit the mark or not and if they need to do that one again.

Every place I have worked people said they did not have time to train. In retail, they mean it! Managers have to be onboard and they have to schedule the training as well as the work.

Now, where did I put my magic wand?

Laura Catalano

Thanks! Your feedback is great! Jeffrey, I totally agree that the we need to set the employee's AND manager's exceptions.  The program needs to be simple and not "time consuming". 

Bob, I couldn't agree more with you when you said "create a sense of continuity over an extended period of time".

Onboarding is a process and it just doesn't stop after 3 or 6 months. Onboarding is not just about ROI it's about ROE (Return on Expectations). Managers need to lead their teams and empower their employees, it's more than just greeting them on the first day and assigning them training.



Kate Salvan

I would recommend using storytelling technique - a process of presenting data by means of entertaining and memorable stories.  Applying storytelling to distance learning we catch learner’s attention and help them to bring knowledge into practice.

·         Case-based storytelling: bringing as examples cases that need to be resolved. 

·         Scenario-based storytelling: a learner becomes a part of the story and achieves different outcomes depending on certain decisions.

·         Problem-based storytelling: teaching how to solve the problem with the best results. The method helps people to develop problem-solving skills and bring their knowledge into practice. 

Eduardo Leopold

My  ideas:

Content: split your content in smaller parts to give the learner the sense of progress even with short study sessions. It will encourage them to access the content between clients, for instance.

User experience: prefer resources that will work fine in a smartphone, with less buttons and more multimedia. Also organize easy retrievable informations, to help the newcomers to check a policy, a process or to check a phone number.

Design: As mentioned before, videos can be very engaging. I like to use Go Pro cameras to create a POV experience in outdoor environment. Instead to place your course inside a studio, take it to the work ambient.

Good luck!



William Carpenter

I would say look into Malcolm Knowles Assumptions of the Adult Learner. As people mentioned, make it bite size. Let them get something within 5 minutes, similar to Lynda.com.

Also make it accessible, make it for ipad and this way its quick and easy to access. So say a PT employee is about to take his/her break / lunch, give them a 5 minute booster and take a "training snack".