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How to Transform Your Retail Employee Training

Zac Francis
Zac Francis

Training your retail workforce can prove to be a unique challenge. Retail employees are by nature hard to reach — they work a variety of shift patterns on their feet and away from technology.  

The current retail training methods used by the majority of retailers fail to account for the way in which employees work, and meet them where they are, in a way that suits them. This can give rise to a disengaged, inadequately trained workforce operating suboptimally. This is then reflected in customers’ attitudes, with 83% of customers thinking they’re more knowledgeable than sales associates.

Low engagement seeps into all facets of employee performance and company success. It’s evident that current training methods no longer make the cut. Retailers should be looking to transform their retail employee training and development. 

Keep reading to find out why retail employee training is so important, some of the problems with current methods, and why transitioning to a mobile-based training platform is the optimal way to transform your retail training.

transforming retail training

Why is retail employee training important?

A well trained retail workforce is important for numerous reasons: 

1. Combats churn

Excellent training improves the chances of your staff sticking around. Churn is a major problem in retail—with an employee turnover rate of 60%. Retailers lose around $19 billion in new staff costs due to employee turnover. 

And (lack of) training is a major contributing factor to high or premature turnover —studies have found that two in three employees quit their jobs because they didn’t learn new skills or improve their performance.

Establishing a strong training program can help reduce churn. Companies that rated highly on employee training see 53% lower employee attrition.How to Retain your Retail Employees: The Ultimate Guide

2. Promotes an excellent customer experience

Retail employees are your front line. They spend the most time with your customers and play a pivotal role in shaping a customer's experience and driving sales growth—both of which are essential elements to a retailer’s survival.

The numbers agree. 73% of customers consider their retail experience a valuable factor when buying, and over 30% of customers report avoiding a brand after a single negative experience.

A strong retail training program can ensure that each member of your workforce is equipped with the skills necessary to provide your valued customers with a 5-star experience.

3. Increases productivity and employee satisfaction

Providing your workforce with training and development opportunities can directly impact your employee satisfaction. When Linkedin asked employees what inspires them in the workplace, 19% responded with training and development opportunities.  

And a happier workforce is a more productive workforce. A study by IBM concluded that a trained workforce is 10% more productive than those who receive no formal training. This stems from employees having the knowledge, but also the motivation, to consistently perform to the best of their ability. 


What are the problems with current retail training?

Retail training can be challenging as employers try to deliver learning at scale to a dispersed workforce that works unsociable hours. And whilst some retailers have adapted their methods, there remain widespread issues that negatively impact employers and their employees.

Below are just some of the major problems with retail employee training.

1. It's delivered sporadically 

All types of employees benefit from constant upskilling and learning, not just when they start their role. Businesses change and new knowledge is required, so it’s important your workforce can meet these changing demands. But according to one survey, almost 50% of retail sales associates are trained only once a year or less. 

2. It’s not accessible when it’s needed most

As part of the deskless workforce, retail workers spend most of their working hours on their feet, jumping from task to task. Current retail training fails to address this, instead removing workers from the shop floor for lengthy periods.

It’s a simple observation, yet long-format classroom-based learning delivered by an external instructor is still a widely practiced method of retail training.

3. It doesn’t engage the retail workforce

Current retail training methods suffer from a serious engagement problem—only 31% of retail employees feel engaged during their training. And 27% of retail workers claim their training is too “boring”.

This is similarly a result of retail training being delivered in-person by an external instructor in a long-form (20+ minute) manner. 45% of retail workers receive training via a mixture of classroom and online training—consisting of unengaging training videos and eLearning units. 

These problems naturally result in negative outcomes. Failure to utilize continuous learning, which consists of engaging content, leads to lower levels of knowledge retention. When training is delivered as a one-off session, the chances of retaining information are low. Without revisiting relevant knowledge, we experience the ‘forgetting curve’—our memory only recalls only 50% of the original information the day after initial exposure.

 These lower levels of knowledge retention have an adverse effect on an employee’s ability to be productive. Many retail employees find they’re lacking the information required to excel in their role. In fact, 28% of store associates find they lack the necessary knowledge to help shoppers.

Retailers should be looking towards bite-sized, engaging content that encourages learners to make a habit of learning and aligns with how people consume most of our information—in short bursts, digitally, and at our point of need.

Navigating Business Challenges in Retail and Hospitality: Insights and Strategies for 2024

The benefits of a transition to mobile learning

With current retail training methods failing, you may be wondering what the best way is to ensure your employees are sufficiently trained.

Mobile-based training platforms can help you overcome your retail training challenge. And with 80% of the world’s population owning a smartphone, your training can be accessed anytime. 

Below are just some of the advantages of mobile learning.

1. Promotes a productive workforce

Mobile learning is tailored for deskless workers. It’s accessible from anywhere at any time, as long as you have a smartphone. And considering there are 6 billion active smartphones in the world, it’s likely your employees do. 

You no longer need to pull employees away from the shop floor. Having relevant information available on-demand guarantees your workforce is trained and productive. In fact, studies show that mobile learning improves productivity by up to 43%

2. Continuous training and learning

Mobile learning ensures your workforce receives training not only when they first join the company, but throughout their career. 

Training is no longer limited to set times and set days, so there’s no need to worry about staff receiving limited or no training. Employees can complete training when it suits them. 

And continuous learning brings about a plethora of positive benefits, including higher levels of engagement and profitability.

3. Engages learners

It’s important that your retail workforce retains the information after first learning it. This is best achieved through microlearning, a mode of consuming information that improves the digestibility, and by extension, the retention rate of information. 

Mobile learning utilizes bite-sized content to engage and motivate employees, tailoring learning to fit our shortening attention spans. 

Companies that have switched to eduMe’s leading mobile training platform have seen results like a 66% increase in sales, a 10% increase in quality of service, and a 200% increase in completion of training material.

To see how eduMe can help transform your retail employee training, get in touch 👇