Retail training is not a cost, it is an investment

Whether it is in good times or tough times, one of the things that we hear in our retail training practice is that training – despite being a desirable activity – is an additional expense that is not always affordable.

 Yet studies conducted by reputable universities like Cornell show that investing in training has big payoffs.  In fact, retail sales representatives who receive formal and informal training showed a 55% of improvement in their productivity over their first two years of employment.  In order to achieve these results an average learner needed to receive approximately 1.5 hours of formal or informal training a week.

When you do the math you find that for a retailer to break even on their training investment, an average sales representative only needed to sell an incremental $300 worth of merchandise!  This is an easily achievable target when you look at the end result of a 55% increase in productivity over the two year period.

It should be noted that formal training programs such as computer-based courses or classroom training accounted for only 8 hours or 6% of the total training time while informal training that occurred on-the-floor accounted for the bulk of the time.  Imagine what could happen if the retailers invested in professionally developed retail training courses!

–        David Goodwin is the Principal of the Retail Advocacy Group.  As a 30 year veteran of the retail industry he has directed the activities of hundreds of retail locations and thousands of retail sales representatives and store managers.  RAG offers consulting services, retail sales training and management training programs.   You can learn more at