A growing business needs the right tools to run smoothly and keep up with demand. From fulfilling orders and handling inventory in the back to managing checkout and helping customers on the floor, your retail employees have a huge impact on the customer experience.
Every employee requires an investment of your own time and energy. New staff members need to be trained on processes, technology, and how to interact with customers to represent the brand. This training is essential from an operations perspective, and it can also improve employee loyalty: In a survey of retail employees, 31 percent said that job training makes them feel “extremely engaged” at work.
Employee training is critical to the success of your business, but the time and resource costs can put a strain on finances. Simplifying your operations is one way to make training more efficient and help new employees get up to speed quickly. Here are a few ideas for simplifying operations to reduce your training burden.
Minimize Your Technology Learning Curve
Nothing slows down employee training like old, complicated retail technology. But not all new technologies are easy to master, either. The key is to minimize the initial learning curve for new employees but still be able to support inventory management and in-depth reporting without using a bunch of different apps. This reduces training costs, increases productivity, and improves the customer experience.
Shopify, Lightspeed, and Springboard all offer user-friendly solutions that can also support your online store. These platforms simplify checkout, inventory, and day-to-day business management. Depending on your priorities, one solution may work better for you than another. Accumula can help you find the right solution based on your business needs.
Always consider the employee side of performance when shopping for new point-of-sale, inventory management, and other retail solutions. If you’re struggling to understand how a new platform works, you can expect a similar response from your new hires.
Prioritize Your New Employee Training Process
It’s surprising how little thought many retailers put into their new employee training process. Just being deliberate about the process will lower costs and simplify decision-making for employees. Plan to improve your process with every new employee to lower costs even further.
Brand values have a direct impact on your daily operations. Prioritize the values you want employees to embody and give them examples they can relate to that showcase those values. They can refer to these examples later to help guide them as needed. When it comes to processes, it should take two weeks or more to get a new employee up to speed. Give new employees a chance to get comfortable with the basics before you ask them to take on more important tasks.
The more focused you can make this onboarding process, the clearer the expectations will be for becoming successful members of your team. So start by making sure your existing employees are delivering on your brand’s promise. Ask questions. If your current employees aren’t delivering, solve those problems first so that everyone is on the same page and new employees aren’t struggling against the habits of your existing team.
Improve Visibility and Accountability
Running a retail business requires nearly constant attention to detail. Pen and paper can get things done in a pinch, but once your business reaches a certain size, you probably need tools that are more visible to your team.
Solutions like Asana, Monday, and Trello function as workflow management tools whose sleek interfaces help organize your business and manage key retail tasks, including purchasing, merchandising, and employee onboarding. Once you get in the habit of using one of these tools, assigning and tracking your operations becomes much more transparent, increasing accountability and ensuring your team is getting the details “just right.”
If employee scheduling is a constant pain for your business, it may be time to kill your old calendar. Fortunately, there are some great scheduling tools built specifically for retailers, including Deputy and Homebase. These tools can help you manage employee scheduling (and the inevitable scheduling changes) with speed and efficiency, turning a tedious process into a simple task.
Create an Integrated Retail Stack
Change is hard on your employees and can be even worse for your customers. As technology advances and your business needs to change, you need to be able to take advantage of new solutions without retraining your entire team and disrupting your whole business. An “all-in-one” retail solution can be a quick fix but probably won’t keep up without complex workarounds that are confusing for even the most seasoned employees. So how do you stay flexible and make change easier to manage?
For most retailers, the answer is to create an integrated retail stack made up of best-in-class solutions. It’s actually less complicated than you think: Choose the software that works best for each part of your business.
Solutions like Springboard and Shopify Plus excel at in-store and online respectively, delivering easy-to-use functionality that readily scales with your business. When you integrate these platforms together through a management platform like Accumula, your employees can easily view consolidated inventory, orders, and customer histories across platforms. Real-time sync ensures that employees see the information they need wherever they look without the need to log into multiple platforms.
This centralized approach provides the experience and simplicity of an “all-in-one” retail solution while harnessing the advanced capabilities of best-in-class platforms. Your customers benefit, and your employees will be happier. And if something better comes along and you want to swap out one platform for another, you can do so without changing everything and upending your business.
Retail has one of the highest employee turnover rates of any industry, and those numbers are rising, even for corporate retail employees. For part-time hourly workers, turnover rates can be as high as 81 percent. By investing in your processes and the right tools, you can create a better employee training process that cuts costs and leads to more efficient operations.