Why training is gaining importance in the digital world

Sales staff are your biggest asset

Online retail is commoditising the retail business – a trend that can’t be undone and one that is set to continue as Amazon, and even High Street retailers like Walmart – plus major department stores – expand their digital functionality.

Where does this leave retailers in mainstream and travel retail channels? Sadly for them, cannibalisation is taking its toll already, as evidenced by the large number of High Street failures. According to the Centre for Retail Research, in the UK retail companies going into receivership have risen sharply between 2015 and 2017 (11 months to November) at 25, 35 and 42 respectively.

Yet physical shops retain a key advantage: they can create a truly personal, face-to-face shopping experience – something that the online channel is yet to develop (although it probably will at some point as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality technologies mature).

To provide the best possible personal experience – and to differentiate clearly your physical retail offer from online – training is the most important weapon you can have in your armoury. Many luxury brands, in fact, use online as a way to bring shoppers into their physical stores, where expert store staff should be awaiting them.

Consumers go to the web to check opening times, prices and promotions, but then go to a physical store to transact. At this point, having done a lot of online research, they will often be very knowledgeable about what they want so store staff need to impress them with even better knowledge or service.

Research by Bain & Company and Farfetch predicts that luxury purchases in a physical location will still account for 75% of the market by 2025 – not really a surprise when dealing with a non-commodity item.

In the US, eMarketer also forecasts that retail e-commerce sales will hit $4.1 trillion by 2020 almost three times the $1.5 trillion seen in 2015, but the category’s share of the entire retail market will only double, going from 7.4% to 14.6% in the same period. Therefore, the opportunity in bricks and mortar remains strong.

Rethinking stereotypes about training

In retail, the word ‘training’ often makes many people’s eyes glaze over. There are assumptions that it consists of a few basic principles of how to sell to a consumer. It is just common sense, right? Wrong.

Training done the right way has the capacity to motivate staff members, empower them and give them the confidence to interact meaningfully with shoppers and enjoy the selling experience. It means giving them the skills to identify different types of shoppers, based on many factors including nationality and demographics but most critically the customer’s individual needs. This leads to much better sales.

We know this at 2.0 & Partners because we have been implementing highly-successful training programmes for several years, in both duty free and domestic luxury environments. Our mission is to improve the retail customer experience – and our programmes are proven to build confidence, excite store staff and increase sales.

Sales staff are your biggest asset

We see store staff as a retailer’s route to success – not as a low-paid workforce that is a burdensome necessity. We have developed an exclusive proprietary programme called BXM® in order to sharpen up their selling skills.

BXM® stands for Brand eXperience Management and offers customised plans to fit the exact requirements of individual retailers and their locations. For standalone boutiques, our programmes are tailored to fit as seamlessly as possible with a brand’s philosophy.

Our specialists train and coach store personnel in order to increase the quantitative and qualitative performance of retail stores, improve staff effectiveness at the point-of-sale, and ultimately ensure that sell-out processes are optimised so that sales KPIs are increased. In other words we deliver measurable progress.

A three-stage BXM® Retail Academy Certification gives employees a record of their attainment, and pride in what they have achieved. It enhances their professional profiles, skills and levels of self-assurance.


The benefits of cultural awareness

Separate to the BXM® Retail Academy Certification programme, 2.0 & Partners has focused on another area that is underplayed in many sales situations – cultural awareness. In many channels – and especially so in travel retail – the Chinese, Russian, Brazilian and other high-spending nationalities need special attention to generate maximum sales.

2.0 & Partners calls this the Mystery Shopper element, where cultural sensitivity is essential in meeting certain nationalities’ expectations.

Our multi-ethnic and multicultural Mystery Team operates internationally with a unique programme for travel retail. The aim is to review objectively – and in detail – the end-to-end selling process, taking into consideration customers’ cultural differences and personal approaches.

Key travel factors that are analysed include dwell time based on flight schedules and connections; the management of any ‘anxiety state’ of potential shoppers; and pinpointing areas for improvement when dealing with the specific needs and desires of multicultural travellers.

Valuing the right assets

It is often said that people are the most valuable asset of any business – this is especially so in retail. An investment in training can reap very big rewards and make a major contribution to both top and bottom lines. In the move to omni-channel retailing, training should not be seen as an optional or irrelevant resource – as it so often is. It has become a strategic necessity in the challenging digital retail environments of today.

Online shopping – with the convenience of home delivery – is skimming off a larger share of retail sales, but it is not the same story for luxury. Here, physical stores in all channels remain important but they all need to up their game in terms of personalised attention to their clients – and that means customised training. This way companies can maintain – and increase – competitive advantage.

2.0 & Partners will soon announce its next BXM training course. If you would like to attend, please feel free to contact us. Remember… one-size-fits-all is NOT the way 2.0 & Partners develops its training programmes, which is why they are so successful.

by Fabio Bernardini (fabio.bernardini@20partners.com)

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