opinion

COVID-Friendly Strategies for Retail Staff In-Store Learning

COVID-Friendly Strategies for Retail Staff In-Store Learning

If there is one sales activity that both stores and manufacturers seem to truly bond over, in my opinion, it is during store visits and trainings. With COVID continuing to spread, many stores are going to see another period of closures, or modified store openings. Not only has business been thrown into disarray but so have some of the fundamentals that keep us motivated and energized from day to day.

How do you remain compliant with COVID but also consistent with your business culture when it comes to fostering a learning-based environment for continued product or new product education? Here are a few ideas to help your stores and teams!

If you dedicate an hour or two of time for associates to watch online resources, the payoff in the end is worth it.

If you are fortunate enough to remain open, look at your in-store training binder or brand binders. Having a central place to keep all product information across all brands you carry is a great way to engage all team members in sharing consistent information. Training material can get diluted once it is passed down from manufacturer to store associate. Having data directly from the manufacturer can preserve the integrity of the information as well as ensure your team members find the information credible and reliable. If you have not started a store binder-type training center in your store, I highly suggest you start one. Have some fun with it and make it decorative and fun so people want to engage with the information. Have stickers or other rewards for people to sign off once they have reviewed the information. I have seen info binders that were dedicated, and color coded to specific brands and updated monthly. I have seen others that were divided by brand and organized alphabetically — it really comes down to the easiest way you can consistently manage the information and being able to constantly add and edit the information. Check out Staples; they have some great options at decent prices to help you get started. Pinterest is also a great resource to download and print free forms.

Reach out to your distributors and manufacturers and ask them for a list of their training materials and resources. There are probably a lot of new materials your partners have come out with since COVID that you could add to your binder, to take place of in-person store visits. If you need something from a brand that you can’t find, don’t be afraid to ask. Often, as a manufacturer we are eager to give you the information we have, but don’t always know the most effective way to share the information. By stores and teams asking for specific needs, it helps guide us when creating and developing training materials for our products.

Dedicate some time in each person’s weekly schedule to allocate to watching training videos at the computer. It sounds silly, but how often have you meant to sit down and watch a training video but just never got around to it? If you dedicate an hour or two of time for associates to watch online resources, the pay-off in the end is worth it! A few hours off the sales floor is probably what employees would have spent in the first place having in-store trainings. Don’t be afraid to play around with different ways to share and incentivize product education. Ask your manufacturer for training or sales contest prizes; you might be surprised at how many donations you are able to gather. A great option is to make a post in the Pleasure Professionals Place Group on Facebook — it is hosted by industry vets Paul Reutershaun, Tamara Bell and Steve Sav. Post about your training wants and needs and see what people come to you with.

If you are one of the lucky stores open and want an in-person training, there are reps very eager to travel. Please let us know if we can come visit! Visits always equal fun gifts and prizes for your team.

Product education isn’t just about learning about a new product; it’s about the quality of shopping experience you offer, the pride in ensuring your associates are at the top of their game, and knowing that you make a positive difference in someone’s life when they shop with you!

“We have to learn to grow, to grow to learn.”

Danielle Seerley, aka “America’s Sex Toy Sweetheart,” is the senior sales executive for Shibari Wands and Voodoo Toys.

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