Retail staff training ideas for 2020: Five awesome examples

Learning and development in the retail industry has its own unique set of challenges. The modern retail employee needs support on the job. They’re not at a desk. They don’t have much time. They’re faced with constant change. But they still need training and in this environment, digital learning is your best friend.

We look at five retail staff training ideas, with real examples to inspire you.

retail staff training ideas

Whether we’re talking about customer service employees with online retailers or floor staff in large retail stores – your goal is the same. Well-trained, engaged and motivated employees who’ll deliver a great customer experience as a result.

Here are five ways elearning can help your retail business to upskill and train employees.

5 retail staff training ideas (+ examples)

1. Scenario-based retail sales training

When you introduce new products, you need employees to not only get to grips with those products but also be able to sell them to your customers. Product training itself isn’t always enough, and that’s where scenario-based elearning comes in: bringing the content to life and putting the product knowledge into context.

Click for a demo of how this can work (for both shop-based and call centre sales staff), and keep in mind:

  • Scenarios don’t need to be complex; even the simplest scenario turns a fact-checking quiz into a more challenging test of the user’s ability to apply the learning in context.
  • You can direct the learner back to the product information if they don’t respond well in the scenario, reinforcing the learning further.

Scenario-based Retail staff training ideas

2. Time-saving tailored learning journeys

In retail, confidence, knowledge and experience levels vary a lot between employees. Where some will need in-depth training information, others will only need a refresh.

You can cut down learning time and deliver a better experience by offering choice.

This Returns 101 example starts with an open exploratory menu that allows workers to pick the path that’s right for them. They have the option of a quick refresh, more detail or skipping straight to the quiz. It respects time, but also offers the depth of information if needed.

Open exploratory menu example

Watch the behind the scenes video that explains the design decisions behind this example.

3. Point-of-need performance support

Sometimes, though, you don’t want to take retail staff away from the shop floor to learn about new products. Imagine a store where the stock changes regularly, though not drastically – like a shoe shop. A solution that lets staff check the details when they need (just-in-time performance support) rather than swot up ahead of time (just-in-case product training) could be a much better investment. It’s also quick to produce and easy to update.

Take a look at the ‘Arthur’ Brogue sales resource as an example, and remember:

  • The focus is on putting key information literally in the palms of their hands, so prioritize responsive design, perfect performance across mobile devices, and visual design that allows easy scanning and quick navigation.
  • This is about point-of-need information delivery, rather than deep learning or behavioural change so interactions may not be necessary; any you do include should be quick and easy to complete on a small touch screen.

Point-of-need performance support

4. Focused, high-impact mini games

Retail staff are predominantly on the shop floor; generally they don’t have time during work to worry about development activities, and don’t want to do so outside of work. So the challenge is to design short, sharp bursts of content (micro-learning, if you like) to take advantage of the pockets of time they do have – five minutes before their shift, a lull at the checkout, and so on. 

This demo about the importance of a genuine smile is a good example. 

  • Concentrate on a single learning point, and find ways to make it engaging, impactful and memorable; fast-paced, straightforward, highly visual activities work well.
  • Basic game features can help with this – like the timer in the example – so consider whether badges, scoring or social polling could help draw people in and even create a little healthy competition amongst employees to drive engagement.

Focused, high-impact mini games

5. Practical, on-the-job induction

When you take on temporary staff, you don’t want to spend hours training them when they’re only going to be around for as little as a few weeks. But there’s still stuff they need to know: store layout or key health and safety risks and processes, for example. Why not use elearning to deliver this content efficiently and in a really practical, effective way?

This example of a responsive visual menu isn’t from retail, but imagine:

  • Giving new staff access to a map of the store that lets them click for key information related to each area as they walk around (obviously there’s great opportunity for augmented reality solutions here too, but that’s a different level of investment).
  • Incorporating small elearning interactions into that map – perhaps something about store security or cashing up procedures in the checkout area, or (like in the example) manual handling guidance in the stockroom.

Practical, on-the-job induction

The golden rules for retail staff training

There you have it: fave challenges of the retail environment and five ways elearning can help! Why not explore our Showcase for more examples of effective retail elearning?

Responsive design and point-of-need performance support are the two cornerstones of success when it comes to delivering learning and training to retail employees. Give them what they need, when they need it. (Actually, this is good advice beyond retail! See more about elearning best practices here.)

Those topics that do need to be covered ahead of time, just-in-case style, like customer service and other ‘softer’ skills? Scenario-based elearning can be a great way to train your employees, ensuring relevance and encouraging transfer of learning to the shop floor and interactions with customers.

Modern learning for retail: 2020 toolkit

Stephanie Karaolis