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2017 Holiday Hiring is More Expensive...So How Do You Optimize Temporary Store Associates?

The holidays are coming! How will this year’s forecast of higher spending affect your stores? A recent article in Chain Store Age revealed that retailers will be paying more for temporary help. But that isn’t stopping Target from hiring an anticipated 100K seasonal employees or keeping Macy’s from bringing 80K on board.

There seems to be a lot of confidence about this year’s holiday shopping season. But we’re also still facing a declining trend in foot traffic and a rising trend in store shuttering. So the seasonal employees you onboard HAVE to quickly bring value to your stores in order to keep doors open.

2017 Holiday Hiring is More Expensive...So How Do You Optimize Temporary Store Associates?

Two Keys to Success

They have to help make the in-store experience worth the time and effort your customers put in to shop at your locations. Especially during the busiest time of the year! That means you must equip temporary employees with the training and tools necessary to bring that value.

Walmart is taking a different approach to the upcoming season. The company is relying on its existing workforce to serve holiday customers by offering hours to employees before hiring additional help. And it’s leaning on training and tools to improve customer service and help keep stores filled with merchandise during the rush.

So whether you’re bringing in temporary hires or leveraging your current workforce, training and tools will make the difference between a spectacular holiday season and ho (ho) hum one.

Train them the right way

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Retailers know that training is critical for store associates to provide value to shoppers. But it’s HOW you train that makes the difference. Several days of orientation and training don’t necessarily ensure successful onboarding. Even with the best trainers, you deal with training retention issues: Do they remember where razor blades are located? Do they recall how to handle a stock out?

Training needs to extend from the classroom onto the floor and into the back room. Every day. You’ve got to support fresh associates routinely, so they are at the top of their games from November to January. This can be done with the right tools.

The kind of training matters. It must be delivered in 2-4 chunks on average, with a quick test to ensure the associates are paying attention and taking it seriously. And it needs occasional role-play. It must not only train skills, but attitude. And you need visibility to all activities.

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Put the best tools in their hands

Technology—especially mobile technology—holds the key to fast onboarding and valuable seasonal associates. The tools I’m talking about here are retail execution capabilities inside a mobile app -- on their own smartphone.

If you can give them access to continuous training and product knowledge, easy to use reporting and project management tools, and a real-time communication system, they will be able to keep shelves full and give customers the in-store assistance they need to enjoy the holiday shopping experience.

Not only do these tools enable them to keep up on training, execute retail projects efficiently, and report instantly, they allow your managers to keep aligned with floor teams and respond quickly to problems.

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Will Walmart’s Approach Pay Off?

The Walmart approach may turn out to be a good one. After all, you’ve got associates already familiar with planograms, policies, and merchandise, so why not optimize them with training and tools? Success will depend on how effectively its training and tools provide value to customers.

So, what are you doing to optimize your holiday associates...and maximize the value they can bring to your stores?

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Topics: retail sales training perfect retail execution shopper experience