REVIEW: ERT TURNING POINT LIVE! 2021 Retailer training in 2021:

‘There are more possibilities now’ A summary of the webinar

The final webinar in the week was with Rosie Clarke, Product Training Manager at 20

Miele GB, and Paul Laville, Managing Director of T21 Group, who spoke about how lockdown has changed retailers’ requirements for training and what they should look for in effective training methods going forward.


Q: So how have requirements for retailers changed in terms of training? Paul: There has been a really steep and really rapid uptake of e-learning solutions. From a retailer’s perspective, we’ve noticed a real shift of skills, as they’ve been transferring to selling on the phone and doing click and collect. Or changing job roles – some people who used to work on the shop floor are now working in the warehouse so they require health and safety training, for example. Rosie: What’s really changed for us is the need to be incredibly flexible; training needs to be much more bite size and more accessible. We’ve had to adapt very quickly to offer retailers a range of different solutions in formats that suit them, such as new product videos or info sheets. With product demonstrations, it’s hard to do

those virtually, but it’s really important for us to show the physical behaviour of a product and video content is particularly useful for that. We’ve also had quite a demand for live sessions

– particularly for people that are on furlough. Watching something pre-recorded can feel quite dry, but the idea of interacting with people and absorbing knowledge that way is nicer and it’s easier to ask questions and get responses. For us, product development doesn’t stop, and

consumers’ priorities are always changing. Early last year we saw a massive drive for refrigeration and then it shifted towards hygiene products. Now there’s a lot of talk about sustainability. It’s important for retailers to be aware of these shifts in focus so their staff can respond and focus on product features in different ways.

Q: What sort of feedback have you had from the industry during these difficult times? Paul: Sales staff are flexible and resilient and

many of them have enjoyed the chance to do something new away from the shop floor. From our perspective, we’ve had requests like ‘how do I change my business to get more online’. And part of our business is web development, we’ve been helping retailers much more in this area than on shop floor skills, as you can imagine. One thing we’ve seen is a rise in mental health

awareness in the industry – it’s something that all businesses need to be aware of. So many of us have adapted with new day-to-day activities, but if you are affected by anything then it’s a massive amount of stress and disruption. The little stresses associated with times like these can build up behind the scenes. We’ve been helping people get to the bottom of queries and worries and what this means in business; for example, helping managers identify certain signs from their staff, consulting with those affected and offering structures to help them.

Q: What should retailers be looking for in a training platform in the future? Paul: Online learning platforms are great, but there’s always an analogy I use to make sure it’s right. ‘Can my Aunty Mavis use this?’ You could have all the perfect resources you need in one place and ready to go, but if your old Aunty Mavis can’t use the platform it’s almost pointless. So the first thing is ease of use, for everyone

taking the training but also management behind the scenes so they can see the engagement easily and quickly. This will highlight who’s achieving what and who might need some assistance. But it’s also about sustained use of the platform; all retailers undertaking a training project have to make sure they are absolutely committed. Rosie: It’s important for retailers to ask for what they want from a brand and we are always happy to try and come up with bespoke solutions to fit around any circumstances. That ongoing conversation is crucial, as things are changing so quickly now.

Q: Do you think training will return to ‘normal’ pre-COVID times? Rosie: I think there will be a blend going forward. We’ve seen people who would have never embraced the online learning previously, but they’ve had no choice this past year and they’ve realised the time-saving and cost benefits – undertaking training without the need to travel or take a day out the business. Paul: Flexibility is essential. It’s easy to plan a training session in store but then there are customers that can’t be ignored; e-learning can be scheduled at more convenient times so no opportunity is lost. Also you can layer on existing foundations and build upon training needs. This gives us the ability to be much more flexible as trainers, but retail managers the ability to be much more flexible with their teams. Face-to-face has to come back, but there are more possibilities now rather than fewer possibilities.

Miele’s Rosie Clarke and Paul Laville from T21 (at the top) talking with ERT Editor, Jack Cheeseman, during the webinar

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