Rapid development in technology has ushered in a new world where nearly everything can be done digitally, especially commerce. In a time like this, people may question the need for in-store skills. This argument may hold considering that with e-commerce, the brand’s website is responsible for the shopping experience that a store clerk would otherwise give a shopper. However, you should not be too quick to accept the demise of brick-and-mortar shops. Here are some reasons why having retail sales training is still relevant in the digital age.
The Myth of the “Retail Apocalypse”
Retail stores have been closing down since 2010, including large chains of major brands. Experts point to the significant shift in consumer habits, particularly the increasing patronage of online shopping, as one of the culprits. The trend continued in the following years, prompting some media people to coin the term “Retail Apocalypse” in describing the image of numerous shops that closed down.
Calling it an apocalypse may have been premature, even inaccurate. In a survey conducted in 2019, in-store purchasing was the preferred option of primary household shoppers, beating online shopping by a wide margin in almost every product category. The disparity grew even bigger for major purchases like cars, appliances, and jewellery. If the apocalypse were true at all, it would be on three product types only: games and entertainment, toys, and books. And this is where retail sales training would be irrelevant.
Why Other Retail Shops Failed
If the retail apocalypse is a myth, then why are shops closing? The truth is, retail shops come and go, and the closing of some shops is a normal part of the business. Those that did close failed to adapt to the changing times, part of which is e-commerce. E-commerce has one big advantage, and that is technology. E-commerce retailers can leverage this advantage to gain a better understanding of consumer behaviour and adjust accordingly, be it by enhancing website functionality, adding mobile capability, increasing web speed, or any other way to improve user experience.
How Can a Retail Store Thrive in the Digital Age?
For a retail store to succeed in this modern age, it is important to understand and meet the expectations of consumers, and this is where your retail sales training will come in handy. Today’s shoppers expect a different level of convenience from a retail store, comparable to an online shopping experience. One distinct convenience from online shopping is the ease and speed at which products can be browsed, including the information about them. This convenience is something that a skilled salesperson could give store shoppers. An effective store clerk can find out what product the customer needs, is always ready with the information and solution, and ultimately able to close a sale. And this is just for starters. Building on the data-gathering capability of e-commerce, the same can be done for a retail store, where the needs of retail shoppers are analysed so you can tailor your operation to suit them. The training for store clerks can also be adjusted depending on the result of this research.
The New Look of Retail
As the expectations of consumers continue to change, retail stores must also catch up. At this day and age, this may mean having a multi-channel presence of a retail store, online shop, and other social media platforms, all working together seamlessly to provide a total consumer experience.