Why You Should Train Your Retail Employees On Technology — and How to Do It Right

By Abby Heugel

Technology is at the forefront of everything people do today. From how we communicate with each other to ordering products online, it’s an inescapable part of society — especially in retail.

Whether it’s ecommerce or a brick-and-mortar store, technology continues to change the way consumers shop. When it comes to shopping online, customers have come to expect an experience that is hassle-free — and fast — whether they’re shopping on a website, an app, or a mobile site.

In-store, customers have the same expectations. The experience has to be easy to navigate, customer-focused, and informative — all of which can be done through the proper use of technology like tablets and a mobile POS system. But in order for it to be effective, your staff has to know how to use it.

And that’s exactly what we’ll discuss in this post. You will learn why you should prioritize technology training in retail and you’ll discover some tips on how you to do it right.

The benefits of retail technology training

When implemented correctly, retail technology training can significantly boost store efficiency, customer satisfaction, and profits. Here’s a breakdown of the benefits you can enjoy when your team is properly trained on the tools and solutions you use in your store.

Increased productivity

According to one survey, “68% of enterprise workers say that technology choice makes them more productive, and of those who get to choose, 77% say they’re more likely to choose to work or stay at a company that offers device choice.” When technology is easy to use, employees spend more time working, which results in increased productivity and sales.

Technology can also increase employee efficiency by automating certain processes, enabling them to focus on more important tasks that can help grow your business.

When it comes to managing a team, technology can help by making it easier for employees to track their hours through the use of a cloud-based scheduling system. Mobile apps like When I Work and Schedule Head let managers see an employee’s shift preferences, notify employees to take breaks, and enhance communication between all store employees.

Access to information

If you walk into an Apple store, you’ll find employees walking around helping customers with iPads and iPhones in their hands. Not only are those two of the most successful products that they sell, but they also serve an important purpose — they give employees instant access to information.

With their handheld devices, Apple employees can help customers by looking up useful information, scheduling a Genius Bar appointment, and process sales from anywhere in the store — providing a great customer experience.

In your own store, equipping your employees with technology means they can answer any questions with the help of quick online access. They’re able to offer insight into products, engage more with shoppers, give them access to loyalty offers, and access real-time inventory instead of having to run into the back room. This saves time, hassle, and empowers your sales associates with the ability to serve customers in a more meaningful way.

Easy payment processing

According to a BRP special report on mobile, 84% of retailers will be using mobile POS by 2020, and 89% will be offering mobile solutions to their sales associates within the next three years.

Arming sales associates with a mobile payment solution like Vend’s mobile POS system  provides great convenience for your customers by streamlining the sales process and eliminating the need to stand in line to pay. With a mobile POS, you can:

  • Engage and convert customers from anywhere in the store instead of being tied to the cash register.
  • Get to know your best customers, and reward them with a built-in loyalty program.
  • Capture customers’ details on the spot, right on your iPad.
  • Let your customers pay how they want, with a range of mobile payment options from the world’s leading merchant providers.
  • Provide paperless receipts directly via email.

When customers have the choice to pay anytime, anywhere, it not only increases customer satisfaction, but also the opportunity to make more sales.

Employee retention

Employee turnover costs U.S. companies over $160 billion per year, and rates are the highest that they’ve been in 10 years. When it comes to retail, the turnover rate for hourly store employees is at 65% — the highest it has been since the Great Recession.

This is due to a variety of factors, but one reason seems to be outdated technology, as working on old or obsolete equipment is directly tied to job dissatisfaction. In fact, people who work with outdated technology “feel less productive, are 750% more likely to be frustrated, and 450% more likely to want to quit”.

What this should tell you as a retailer is that keeping up with best practices is critical to keeping your best employees. An average company loses anywhere between 1% and 2.5% of their total revenue on the time it takes to bring a new hire up to speed, so it’s best to keep the employees that you already have and equip them with the tools they need to succeed.

Giving your employees modern mobile devices and services, it shows that you’re confident in their abilities and increases their commitment to your business.

4 Tips For Training Employees On Technology

We’ve tackled the benefits of employee training when it comes to retail tech. Now let’s talk about how you can get your team on the right foot with the tools that you’re using.

Start with the right tech

The most effective to get your team up to speed with technology? Opt for apps and solution that are intuitive and easy to understand. Evaluate the applications and tools that you’re using in your business, and try to view them from a beginner’s perspective. Ideally, users should be able to grasp the software with little to no help.

It also helps to use solutions that work on the devices that your employees already know how to use. This is one of the reasons cloud-based solutions that work on web browsers and mobile devices are so popular. Instead of having to introduce new hardware, you can simply download these apps to your device and be good to go.

Use existing vendor sources

From a standard POS system to mobile, every employee should know how to work every piece of technology to varying degrees. The simplest way to start this is by taking advantage of any training materials from your vendor. Let them sit in on live demos and give them access to the trials that each vendor offers. 

Plus, most solution providers offer help centers that allow users to browse different topics and type in their questions. You and your team should familiarize yourself with these resources. The more you get to know an app or piece of technology, the easier it will be for you to operate it and impart knowledge to others.

Get help from your most adaptable employees 

Speaking of which, some employees may pick up on technology quickly, but others will need some extra training and time. On that note, leverage the experience of users who adapt quickly to new software. Designate those comfortable with technology as transitional training leaders who can solve low-level problems other coworkers might be having.

It’s also a good idea to pair up your more tech-savvy workers with employees who need help with tech. The latter can get some hands-on experience with your tools, while the former can oversee their actions and ensure they’re doing it correctly.

Bring in an expert if necessary

If you’re running a more complex operation or if you have a big team, it may help to bring in a professional to train everyone on the new technology. Most solution providers have in-house account managers and customer success reps who can dedicate time to getting you and your team up to speed with their software.

Some vendors even have certified partners — i.e., independent consultants service providers — who can help with software set up, training, and maintenance. Vend, for instance, works with advisers, resellers, and developers how can assist retailers with their various tech and business needs.

If you need extra help with wrangling your tech, reach out to your solution provider and see if they have in-house support staff who can help or if they can refer you to third-party experts.

Gather feedback

Finally, seek out and address the feedback of your employees who are using the new technology, and keep the lines of communication open. Let the employees know why the technology is being implemented, and how it will benefit the them in doing their job and enhancing their skills.

Listen to what your employees are saying about the new technology — both positive and negative. There are numerous things that your employees could point out, and listening to them is a great way to increase the effectiveness of the new tech as well as increase communication within your business.

Further Reading

Need more staffing tips and insights? Check out The Ultimate Guide to Training and Motivating Retail Employees, an in-depth resource packed with actionable takeaways for motivating employees and boosting staff productivity. In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • How to empower your workforce to maximize happiness and productivity
  • What tools and methods to use when educating your staff
  • How to motivate your staff to bring their best selves to work

    Learn More

The bottom line

Technology means change, and by properly equipping your staff with the modern tools to succeed, that change will be in the form of a more efficient, profitable business.

About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.