Retail Sales: Orientation / Training Program

The initial orientation program followed by subsequent skills training is a key factor in the successful execution of organizational plans. A retail store presents particular sets of challenges associated with these two key processes. While orientation programs present a macroscopic vision of the corporation, the training program endeavors to achieve a well-defined set of goals. In this regard, both are equally important in order to achieve the company bottom line. The rest of this essay will foray into key aspects of these programs and will provide a general design framework for any successful training of salespeople.

The orientation program is very important and hence, it needs to be made a priority. With the unprecedented volatility and mobility in the labor markets, especially applicable to the retail industry, many workers are either completely inexperienced or experienced in allied fields. The following sets of guidelines will be adopted during the implementation of the orientation program for the newly hired salesclerks. A sound orientation program, also known as induction into the company is essential (Owler, 2007). Here,

“The program includes core classroom offerings by the human resources team, classroom and online offerings from the core learning organizations, and peer mentoring to assist in the on-boarding process. Each new employee receives information about the company’s mission, culture, and commitment to corporate citizenship. He is introduced to the resources available to understand corporate processes and tools, as well as employee benefits. The HR team also conducts a series of check-ins with new employees and managers“. (Owler, 2007)

In fact, contrary to popular conceptions of orientation, this activity always precedes other training activities. It is also imperative that the orientation program is well planned and smoothly integrated with the recruitment process. Considering the fact that orientation is a process and not an event per se, enough time need be allotted to this starting phase of the induction program, so that the new recruits are not rushed into their roles without fully gaining an understanding of the wider responsibilities and expectations that their jobs require of them. Elucidating to the new salesclerks about the broader interests of the departmental chain and its responsibility in the context of society is particularly important. The following passage serves as a useful guideline, to be adapted to the orientation program of the salesclerks:

“An effective induction and training system can should be part of a well planned and thought out program which doesn’t just finish after a couple of weeks. Putting time and effort into induction, starting at the recruitment stage, will certainly have payoffs for both company and employees at the time and down the track.” (Owler, 2007)

The training program for the salesclerks can be divided into the following three components: Interacting with Customers, Handling the Billing Computer, Tracking and Replacing commodities, each covered on subsequent days of the three-day program.

Handling the Billing Computer:

The technique most suited to this component of the three-day training program is the active learner-centered one. To begin with, a learner-centered approach to training design is the most advanced form of training that can be adopted. Hereby, the salespeople become active participants in the interactive discourse. While there are a broad range of designs within the learner-based approach, finding the one most suited to retail salesmanship requires a bit of analysis. The general idea is to give these new recruits reasonable control over their learning curve by employing “formal training design elements to shape the cognitive, motivational, and emotional learning processes that support self-regulated learning”. There is sufficient proof that traditional approaches are inadequate in the context of a modern departmental store. For example, workers who already have some expertise find it very challenging to mould their previously acquired skills to a newly structured operational environment. This is very relevant for retail salespeople as the nature of retail marketing is constantly in a flux and requires its practitioners to constantly catch up with market requirements (Skills Training, 1993).

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