Why Re­tail Staff Train­ing Is A Must

Solitaire - - CONTENTS -

Re­tail con­sul­tant Navin Sadarangani high­lights the im­por­tance of re­tail sales train­ing pro­grammes to hone their skills to boost growth.

The jew­ellery world is wise, and when it comes to jew­ellery re­tail­ing, it’s not just about what you dis­play, but it’s also about what you say. One for­mat of jew­ellery re­tail in­vests in large for­mat stores, fills up stocks, and shows a lot of stock in gold, di­a­monds, colour gem­stone-stud­ded jew­els and more. The other model bases its suc­cess on well planned in­ven­tory stock­ing, mer­chan­dis­ing mix, peo­ple man­age­ment, mar­ket­ing man­age­ment and other such rel­e­vant tasks. Both tar­get the same mar­ket and both are look­ing at growth. Both know the po­ten­tial of re­tail is im­mense and to tap the same, it’s only their peo­ple that will be the main dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing fac­tor.

Sur­pris­ingly, un­til a few years ago, jew­ellers were do­ing lit­tle to in­vest in peo­ple with no train­ing bud­get in their yearly plan­ning.

As a re­tail con­sul­tant, when I would ap­proach re­tail­ers, the con­ver­sa­tion would typ­i­cally go, “Who in­vests in train­ing? No­body does any train­ing in the jew­ellery re­tail in­dus­try. What if I train my staff and they leave, like most al­ways do?” To which my only re­tort would be: “What if you don’t train them and they stay?”

When I started NYUZ in 2005, peo­ple in the jew­ellery in­dus­try ques­tioned my busi­ness model in the field of train­ing. Well, af­ter 13 years of ex­pe­ri­ence as an em­ployee and 12 years of head­ing a small-scale en­tre­pre­neur­ial en­deav­our, I am re­as­sured by my clients that I’m on the right path.

Brands like Tan­ishq, Mal­abar Gold & Di­a­monds, TBZ-The Orig­i­nal and even re­gional play­ers like Khimji Jew­ellers in Odisha have got their train­ing agenda in place. Fam­ily jew­ellers like An­mol

Brands like Tan­ishq, Mal­abar Gold & Di­a­monds, TBZ-The Orig­i­nal and even re­gional play­ers like Khimji Jew­ellers in Odisha have got their train­ing agenda in place.”

Al­most ev­ery re­tailer who has en­gaged in staff train­ing has be­gun with soft skills like com­mu­ni­ca­tion, groom­ing and so on. But our jew­ellery in­dus­try is a bit more tech­ni­cal and re­quires a sound knowl­edge base and ar­tic­u­la­tion. ”

Jew­ellers, Manub­hai Jew­ellers, Dwarkadas Chan­du­mal in Mum­bai, Vaib­hav in Vizag, and RH Rad­hakr­ishna Gupta Jew­ellers in Da­van­agere in Kar­nataka have also started train­ing their team and en­cour­ag­ing a Hu­man Re­source De­vel­op­ment pol­icy.

A cou­ple of whole­sale and dis­tri­bu­tion com­pa­nies like Romil and Oro also hold oc­ca­sional team de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes. Of late, in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies and trade bodies like Gem­fields, Plat­inum Guild In­ter­na­tional, Rio Tinto and Forever­mark are con­duct­ing a lot of small work­shops to en­cour­age growth at the re­tail level.

The re­tail mar­ket in this coun­try is densely pop­u­lated with over 3 lakh jew­ellery re­tail­ers vy­ing for growth. For re­tail to change, train­ing is of essence in ev­ery mar­ket and at ev­ery level. How­ever, go­ing ahead, the train­ing needs for each re­tailer is dif­fer­ent and thus, it is vi­tal to iden­tify the in­di­vid­ual re­quire­ments ac­cord­ingly.

Al­most ev­ery re­tailer who has en­gaged in staff train­ing has be­gun with soft skills like com­mu­ni­ca­tion, groom­ing and so on. But our jew­ellery in­dus­try is a bit more tech­ni­cal and re­quires a sound knowl­edge base and ar­tic­u­la­tion. Let’s look at or­gan­ised jew­ellery re­tail­ing op­er­a­tion, the dif­fer­ent po­si­tions that ex­ist and the train­ing needs for each of them: • Sales per­son­nel and cus­tomer ser­vice ex­ec­u­tives: Th­ese are the frontline brand am­bas­sadors who are re­spon­si­ble

for com­mu­ni­cat­ing the vi­sion of the com­pany in thought, word and ac­tion to end con­sumers. Many a time this team is de­void of even the ba­sic com­pany his­tory and emer­gence, let alone prod­uct knowl­edge and sell­ing skills. They func­tion with lit­tle in­for­ma­tion which they have mem­o­rised over the years. So ques­tions on di­a­mond qual­ity al­ways elicit a re­sponse learnt by rote about qual­ity and colour, and a query on Hall­mark­ing al­most al­ways gen­er­ates a stan­dard re­sponse that it is ‘BIS ap­proved’.

Store man­agers: Bur­dened with the task of de­liv­er­ing sales tar­gets, they don’t re­alise that their job ac­tu­ally means run­ning a suc­cess­ful re­tail op­er­a­tion be­yond sales. So a lot of am­bi­gu­i­ties in op­er­a­tional pro­ce­dures, mis­match of stock re­quire­ments and al­lo­ca­tions, wrong mer­chan­dise in coun­ters, in­abil­ity to build and nur­ture sales team be­cause of per­sonal in­se­cu­ri­ties are some of the fac­tors that don’t al­low for ef­fec­tive store man­age­ment and so for the brand ex­pe­ri­ence one has to rely only on lofty ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paigns.

De­part­men­tal man­agers: Core func­tions like mer­chan­dis­ing, mar­ket­ing, in­ven­tory, EDP, per­son­nel and HR, ac­counts, fi­nance, projects, etc., are all headed by ex­pe­ri­enced peo­ple, who, more of­ten than not, are from other in­dus­tries. A ba­sic ori­en­ta­tion

pro­vided to th­ese peo­ple of the jew­ellery in­dus­try and of the prod­uct tech­ni­cal­i­ties would give them so much more con­fi­dence to head their de­part­ment, whereas they oth­er­wise look to other des­ig­nated peo­ple for the ba­sic in­for­ma­tion on prod­uct break­down.

Ex­ec­u­tive heads/di­rec­tors: Some of the top-most brand pro­mot­ers have their fam­ily mem­bers play­ing im­por­tant roles in their busi­ness. By de­fault, th­ese fam­ily mem­bers are on the board of di­rec­tors, and are re­quired ‘to tightrope’ crit­i­cal de­ci­sions with­out enough ex­pe­ri­ence or knowl­edge of the sub­ject un­der dis­cus­sion. A spe­cial cur­ricu­lum that ori­ents them from the de­sign­ing room to the board­room of the jew­ellery re­tail en­vi­ron­ment is some­thing that they need badly. This will make them aware of the nu­ances of core func­tions and also al­low them to choose ar­eas that they could head. For in­stance, ev­ery woman mem­ber of the jew­eller fam­ily doesn’t have to be a de­signer and a prod­uct de­vel­oper; she could take over other im­por­tant func­tions like HR and mar­ket­ing, ad­ver­tis­ing and PR and do jus­tice. Cashiers/stock cus­to­di­ans: Depend­ing on the for­mat of the re­tail en­tity some hire cashiers only for the pur­pose of billing, cash and credit card trans­ac­tions. In other cases, a cashier­cum-stock cus­to­dian is made to do a daily stock tally, be­sides the cash and bank trans­ac­tions. Some even have cashiers do­ing the re­pairs and cus­tomer ser­vice fol­low-up rou­tine. Plus, they han­dle sales dur­ing ex­i­gen­cies. The job is at times stress­ful, and fi­nan­cially reaps lit­tle ex­tra re­wards but with a lot of hung li­a­bil­i­ties of a trans­ac­tional na­ture. The cashier’s job ac­tu­ally re­quires him to be an all-rounder, and a smart, pre­sentable cashier with an at­ti­tude for cus­tomer ser­vice could ac­tu­ally turn out to be the best as­sis­tant man­agers you can have, with a lit­tle bit of train­ing. But where do all of th­ese cour­ses ex­ist for real world us­age in the In­dian re­tail con­text and even if they do, will the in­dus­try lap them up with the right spirit?

We pride our­selves as be­ing among the big­gest con­sumers of gold, the third largest con­sumers of di­a­monds, and now even plat­inum is mak­ing in­roads through 1,000 out­lets across the coun­try.

I would urge the ‘peo­ple in power’ to spur the growth through train­ing.

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