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  • Joanne Neidorf

Results From Our Survey: Training Effectiveness

Merchant Insight Consulting conducted an online survey to gather input from individuals with deep experience of the Merchant and Planning functions on their experience of training and development "on the job."

We chose this focus because we believe there is an opportunity to improve both the quality and availability of training offered in retail buying and planning. We wanted to understand the current methods employed how different types of content are covered, and how effective different methods are at achieving desired outcomes for training and development.

For a recap of the training methods employed, see our blog postings from October 4 and October 7, 2017.

Training Effectiveness

While offering training is important, it is even more essential to ensure that the training provides value to your Buyers and Planners AND to your organization. Therefore, we asked our respondents to rate each training method as Always, Often, Sometimes or Never successful on the following dimensions:

  • Increasing their awareness and understanding of retail merchandising theories and concepts

  • Increasing their knowledge and competency

  • Improving their decision-making

  • Improving their performance as a Merchant or Planner

According to our respondents, both instructor-led and "At desk" training with Managers are the most effective in increasing their awareness and understanding of retail merchandising theories and concepts. 77% rate these methods as "always" or "often" good in this regard.

These two methods are also cited as effective at increasing knowledge and competency:

85% of respondents indicate that instructor-led training and "At desk" training with their Manager are "always" or "often" effective at improving their knowledge and competence. "At desk" training with a peer is also strong in this area with 69% rating this as "always" or "often" good on this dimension.

Next we looked at how well each training method improved decision-making:

Of the training methods surveyed, "At desk" training with a Manager or a peer are reported as the most effective for improving decision-making. 85% say training with their Manager s "always" or "often" delivering on this objective. 69% report training with a peer delivers "always" or "often" on this important criteria of training effectiveness.

And finally, when asked how well each method impacted their performance as a Merchant or Planner, 85% of respondents say that "At desk" training with their Manager is "always" or "often" successful at improving their performance.

In summary, "At desk" training with a Manager is reported as the most effective overall at delivering the desired outcomes for retail Buyer/Planner training.

Instructor-led training gets high marks for increasing understanding of retail concepts and theories and increasing knowledge and competency.

"At desk" training with a peer is strong for increasing knowledge and competency, improving decision-making and improving performance.

Key Takeaway:

All training is enhanced and improved with an "At desk" component. "At desk" Manager coaching needs to be embedded into the training approach, which can also employ other time- and cost-effective delivery methods.

As more retailers expand their use of online/e-learning as a standardized, "always available" and cost-effective method to deliver training, it is important to deploy holistic training programs that couple e-learning with high-impact "at desk" training with a Manager to improve the relevance, effectiveness and outcomes of Buyer/Planner training.


To request a copy of the full survey report, please contact us at

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