By Vandna, Marketing Intern

YOOBIC works with retailers to increase in-store efficiency and ensure stores are compliant with brand standards. My passion for retail drew me into working for a company with these values and goals. 

Having worked as a sales associate in industries ranging from fashion to food & bev for 5 years, I have been given an insight into retail culture, and most importantly I've learned what it takes to create an exceptional customer experience.

Although every retailer's employee training program is unique, I found my training experience across different industries was usually the same.

The training process would usually look like this:

1. Walk into the store and meet the manager

2. Being taken to the staff room for a company introduction and health and safety video

3. Once finished, being brought back out onto the shop floor and given a tour of the store

4. The manager would then briefly explain the products, or if they were too busy ask a colleague to take over instead

During my experience in retail, I found that the stores I worked in had a lack of continuous training and development. If a new product comes into the store, most managers expect their employees to learn about the new products themselves, or occasionally pass around a product training handbook.

Learning about new products was something that excited me. It gave me a chance to build my product knowledge, while having fresh new products to look at in-store. Employee knowledge is key, without it sales associates cannot sell effectively to customers.

I was also motivated by the fact that I could help someone pick out a special gift for someone or better yet, make someone's day and find something special for them. Going out of your way for a customer enhances their experience, increasing the chances of them returning to your store.

However, there were factors that made me less motivated at times. Particularly during moments where I had unhelpful management or managers who didn’t really know what they were doing. Direction and clear structure is vital in any successful retail organisation.

So, here are my top 5 takeaways from working in retail.

1) Customers like to try before they buy

Alongside price, quality is a big factor which influences consumer purchases. I noticed customers who came into the store were interested in not only the feel of the product, but also what materials went into making it. I would often catch them looking for the inside label to show the exact breakdown.

Once they were happy with this, they would go over to the fitting room and try the products on before purchasing.

2) Customers prefer to order their items in-store

I often helped customers look for products in-store which turned out to be out-of-stock. Our in-store system allowed customers to order off the iPad either to collect their order in-store or have it delivered straight to their home.

While home delivery may be the convenient option for some, I found more customers preferred to collect their items in-store. Perhaps due to the try and buy factor.

3) Employee knowledge is everything

Knowing your products inside out is key for any successful retailer. No matter what sector of retail I was working in, I always had customers approach me asking for my recommendations and opinion. After all, sales associates should be the most knowledgable about their store products, right?

By showing your customers you are knowledgeable, they will be more likely to make a purchase.   

4) Happy customers = repeat customers

Long queues and untidy stores can be off-putting for customers. However, if you provide them with an exceptional service, they are likely to return.

I often dealt with shoppers who were shopping for gifts. By tailoring their shopping experience to their needs, I helped them find that perfect gift, turning them into a happy customer, which lead to them often coming back.

5) Efficiency is key

Along with providing an exceptional customer service, efficiency is something shoppers look for.

Whether it be a self-checkout till or a sales associate who can help them find the closest store to stock their missing item, efficiency is key.

Without it, shoppers are likely to go elsewhere.

Overall, having worked in different industries in retail, I noticed gaps and inefficiencies which meant that sales associates weren't always provided with the right tools and training to deliver the perfect customer experience.

Therefore, it's vital for retailers to provide their stores with these materials and support, so every store can execute a flawless customer experience.