How Retail Product Knowledge Delivery Is Evolving

Retail has seen some serious shifts in recent history. As consumer expectations have altered and retail technology has advanced beyond what many anticipated, retailers and brands have needed to stay up to date and then some. Whether we’re talking about sales associate enablement or frontline leadership training, one area that has changed greatly is product knowledge delivery. 

In this blog article, we’ll discuss how product knowledge delivery in retail has changed over time, scrutinize the factors motivating these changes, and explore why scalable solutions are so important today. First we have to look into retail history.

A Brief History of Product Knowledge Delivery

In the “golden days” of retail and branding, product knowledge delivery was simple and straightforward. 

A brand rep or store manager would train retail sales associates in-person. This training tended to revolve around product specs, advantages, possible disadvantages, and selling points. Frontline leadership training also involved such factors, but included more detail, as well as management strategies. 

As the network of products and brand partners (and retail itself) scaled, these methods of product knowledge delivery became increasingly unwieldy. They simply couldn’t keep pace with the industry’s growth rate and complexity.

Then came the age of physical manuals and training materials, including for frontline leadership training. While this method was an upgrade from in-person training, in that it was more flexible and dynamic, these materials met plenty of roadblocks. They were awkward to carry around, slow to be revised, and unengaging for associates, who craved something more interactive.

The rise of digital technology opened up bold new possibilities for product knowledge delivery. Brands and retailers took hold of online platforms, video courses, and interactive quizzes to disseminate product information more efficiently. Soon associates and managers could re-up on knowledge while on the job. Associate and frontline leadership training was possible on the job. The early “digital transformation” inaugurated greater dynamism, ease of use, and personalization, but it didn’t solve the crucial issue of delivering product knowledge at scale for large sales force.

Scalable Solutions for Associate and Frontline Leadership Training

With brands and retailers continuing to grow and change, the demand for scalable product knowledge delivery solutions has become significant. This need must be addressed. With an ever-expanding inventory of merchandise and retailers to partner with, brands must distribute to all retail sales associates all the required learning and development, skills, and talking points to close sales and enable customer relationship building. Sales training and frontline leadership training hang in the balance.

Scalable solutions, like sales enablement platforms, have come about to address this challenge. You may have heard of these. Such platforms allow brands to distribute product knowledge quickly and consistently across their entire network of retail partners, up and down the board, for brand training purposes. In addition, they allow frontline leadership and Operations leaders to track, analyze and visualize the success of product knowledge delivery. These detailed insights that help leaders articulate strategies and move inventory.

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Factors Changing Product Knowledge Delivery

Several factors have contributed to the evolution of product knowledge delivery in retail, both for associate training and frontline leadership training. These include:

  1. The growth of e-commerce: As more customers turn to online buying, retailers must stand out by demonstrating top-notch brick-and-mortar experiences. This demands passionate, friendly sales associates who sound like experts and can provide personalized product knowledge to every customer. That’s how you out-compete with e-commerce.
  2. Growth in competition: Retail as a whole has become a tighter market with more competitors selling the same types of products. This makes it crucial for brands to give their retail sales associates access to the merchandise know-how to make them more engaged and informed, and stand out from the crowd.
  3. Customer expectations: Today’s customers are pickier than ever. Gone are the days of “one product for everyone.” Instead, customers anticipate that sales associates will be able to speak to them about the products on sale–that they are the experts who will be able to help them make choices.
  4. Technological evolution: Bleeding-edge technologies, such as AI, smart analytics, and machine learning have helped brands and retailers distribute product knowledge faster and with more of an impact–in a more personalized fashion. Associate and frontline leadership training has benefited.

Evolving Along with Retail

The history of retail product knowledge delivery underlines retail’s need to evolve to meet the new consumer and today’s digitally transformed market. In order to grow in the fast-moving, uncertain economy, retailers and brands must turn toward scalable product knowledge delivery technologies that elevate all retail sales associates into smart, engaged product experts.

History tells us that embracing change, rather than turning away from it, is mission-critical to adaptation in retail. That’s where Rallyware enters the picture. Our retail performance enablement platform delivers powerful frontline technology for organizations to distribute product knowledge at scale, analyze its uptake, and drive the right business outcomes. Click here to learn more and request your demonstration.