Why Retail Staff Training Is A Must
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.