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4 essential skills for retail employees

4 essential skills for retail employees

As a store owner or manager, training new employees on the daily operations of your business may seem like a waste of time and resources. Often sales associates work part-time and the position sees frequent turnover. Consequently, it can be temping to skimp on training for recent hires.

In reality, taking the time to ensure each employee is thoroughly trained can have a great impact on your profits. While you may feel like training resources were squandered away when people quit within a few months of their first day, the benefits you can reap from loyal employees are more important. If you think about the number of customer interactions each hire has across the several months or years they stick with your business, you’ll see why it’s vital to educate everyone thoroughly.

It might be time for you to revamp how you train new staff members. Check out these four essential skills for retail employees to learn and love from day one.

“Employees must have salesmanship to work the floor.”

1. The art of making a sale
Even if your sales associates aren’t expected to push products or shmooze with customers to encourage purchases, they must have a sense of salesmanship to work the floor. To do so, staff must know information about all of the offered products and services.

Arm your employees with knowledge about upsells and add-on sales. They should know what questions to ask browsing customers, understand which products sell best together and feel comfortable talking about current sales promotions. At the same time, staff must know where the line between encouraging and pushy is. Customers who feel rushed or pressured into making a purchase aren’t as likely to go through with the transaction.

Finally, be sure your whole staff can navigate and restock the inventory effectively. Although you may have a specific person or two to unload new shipments and maintain the backroom, it’s important for employees to be able to find products in different colors or sizes in the midst of a potential sale.

2. Smart and effective customer service
In the age of e-commerce, it’s no secret that the way your employees tend to shoppers can make or break the amount of store traffic you receive. This is because some customers shop at brick-and-mortar stores solely for the experience. There are several ways to improve your store’s customer experience, but exceptional service is a big one.

Remind new hires that working in retail means working in the service industry. In most cases, the customer is right and should be revered. Employees must be able to communicate confidently, comprehensively and courteously to shoppers. It’s also key for staff to help several people at once, especially if you have busy times of the day. Teach hires how to balance multiple customer requests, including politely excusing themselves to greet a new guest or find a different size in the back for another patron.

Ensure seamless transactions with POS training.

3. How to handle the financial side of business
Every employee that will be ringing customers up should be trained to use the cash register or point-of-sale system. Your staff must know how to complete transactions that deal with credit cards, cash, personal checks, gift cards and digital payments (if applicable).

When it comes to handling paper money during a sale, cashiers need to know the store policy about making change for customers, how to count the cash drawer before and after their shift, and ways to identify counterfeit bills. Discuss when it’s appropriate to use a Detector Pen, such as when customers pay with $50 or $100 bills. For credit card transactions, be sure employees are comfortable using the machine, charging any associated fees and dealing with denied cards. If your store uses digital forms of payments, such as LevelUp or other smartphone applications, cashiers must be able to guide customers through transactions, so it’s best to train everyone on the process when they’re hired.

4. General employee tasks
Of course, we can’t forget about the day-to-day responsibilities that each employee has. This includes steps for opening and closing the store, such as securing the cash drawer and cleaning before locking up at night. Processes that ensure the store is tidy and organized, including how to arrange merchandise and restock store displays, should be reviewed frequently so new hires build good habits right off the bat.