Mind the Store

Retail Reality

Revitalizing ROI: Data Shows Well-Trained Associates Increase Retail Margins

By
Nathaniel Rowe
Fri, 02/03/2017 - 14:00

According to data collected from brands across industries, of varying sizes and in-store priorities, there are factors that consistently improve sales for brick-and-mortar stores. In this five-part series, take a closer look at ways to embrace each to efficiently and effectively revitalize ROI.

Ensuring that store associates have at least a baseline understanding of products, such as specifications and differentiators, is a key component in driving sales revenue and improving the bottom line.

Throughout 2016, one apparel and eyewear company put this theory to the test by tracking associate education levels across 2,432 of its stores in North America. First, the company assessed education individually, asking employees standard questions to assess whether they had “No Product Knowledge” or “Baseline” (which included employees with “some” or “lots” of product knowledge). They found that stores with a higher percentage of knowledgeable associates sold more product. And while the correlation between associate education and improved sales exists across store sizes, it was more pronounced in the larger stores that had both more store associates and more available inventory to sell.

The value of associate training is clear. Before rushing to develop training plans, though, a final note: The study also measured the difference between stores where associates had "Some Product Knowledge" versus "Lots of Product Knowledge," and the correlation between more knowledge and sales was minimal. It was more important to get associates trained with at least basic product knowledge than to shoot for the incremental returns of training all associates to very high levels.

The ROI of Well-Trained Associates