The days of the training book are numbered.
You know, that big, bound set of papers that your first boss slammed down on your desk? The one filled with scripts, procedures, codes, and smiling clip art?
Yeah those are going away.
Modern retailers still care about providing training resources to their employees, of course, but 89% of retailers will be arming sales associates with mobile tech for training by 2020.
For any who’ve been off the retail frontlines for a while, or that remaining 11% of retailers who are holding off on this wave of the future, we’ve identified three major reasons why mobile training resources will soon be universal.
Reducing Training Time
I always loved onboarding week when starting at a new job. It’s kind of like going back to school – a week filled with lectures and a little paperwork where you get paid, but nothing’s really expected of you. Just don’t fall asleep or burn the building down, please.
But that’s the same reason employers hate long onboarding periods. It’s a week or more where they’re paying salaries for employees who aren’t working. And in an industry with tremendous turnover rates, they’ll probably lose multiple weeks a year for each and every position.
But with mobile training tools, frontline retail employees can take their training out into the aisles.
Have a minute between answering questions? Pop in a five minutes of training.
Bored while waiting in line for lunch? Training time!
That’s exactly the approach being taken by Home Depot who recently rolled out an app they call “PocketGuide” that uses games to teach employees product knowledge about the thousands of items sold in their stores.
Because any employee can download it straight to their phone, Home Depot says, PocketGuide will dramatically reduce the amount of backroom training each employee needs. For a company that needed to fill 80,000 positions last year, that amounts to huge savings in money and effort.
Instant Access to Information
If your sales associates are less knowledgeable about the products you’re selling than your customers, what are they there for? Giving directions?
A recent study showed that 73% of shoppers speak to sales associates primarily because they’re looking for expert product knowledge.
That might have been a simple matter of knowing the differences between the $200 stereo and the $300 stereo 30 years ago, but in the modern day you should expect that every customer walking through your front doors already spent hours researching products before coming into your store.
That’s where mobile devices, chock full of product knowledge, in the hands of sales associates have the ability to shine.
It’s unreasonable (an ineffective) to expect your harried sales staff to memorize the 72 differences between one model of bicycle and another. But with powerful mobile knowledge centers, they’ll be able to scan that information in their initial training and return to it with the speed of a digital native next time a customer asks a question they don’t know.
In this way, using mobile devices as the center of your training efforts provides continuing benefits, not just an easier way to handle onboarding.
Just ask Perry Kramer, VP of BRP, the organization that authored the study I mentioned up at the top. He pointed out:
“Putting mobile devices in the hands of store associates is now a necessity to keep up with the customer who has a plethora of information available at her fingertips,”
The Flow Never Stops
If I told you your septuagenarian doctor hadn’t updated their medical knowledge since they finished medical school in 1978, would you be excited to put your life in your hands?
Of course not.
So why would you be satisfied with leaving your sales desk in the hands of someone who finished their training four product lines ago?
Most sales associates only get new training on the products in your stores a couple times a year. And that only happens if your brands manage to get a representative out to their store. The rest is done, most of the time, through paper newsletters.
In the 21st century.
In other words, any associate that doesn’t have access to a constant feed of the latest training and product knowledge is falling behind and is costing you sales.
That’s possibly the biggest benefit of mobile training tools. Because they’re online, and always accessible to your employees, they’re a great platform to provide a constant feed of information and advice to your sales associates.
That’s why, at Myagi, we encourage our users to focus on creating a never ending stream of content that feeds straight to their employees, rather than a one-off set of training videos.
Go Mobile or Die
The ubiquity of mobile devices in your sales associates’ hands presents all retailers with a tremendous opportunity. Myagi believes that sales associates are retails most valuable asset and the best retailers have reinvented their staff from transaction takers into experience makers.
Experiential retail is something of a buzzword at the moment, yet it is often understood as just the physical lay out or aesthetics of a store. In reality, they key experience makers in stores are your sales associates.
It is essential retailers and brands look to invest time and resources into their staff on the shop floor if they want to capitalize on all the marketing and promotional efforts that occur before a customer walks in.
So when you think about it, I mean really think about it, is that really something you can do with a handbook and some newsletters? It’s time to replace the old tools with powerful, accessible, mobile training solutions.