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  • Joanne Neidorf

Three Insights From Our Survey On Training Methods and Their Effectiveness

Merchant Insight Consulting conducted an online survey to gather input from individuals with deep experience in the Merchant and Planning functions in a wide variety of non-grocery retail formats.

The survey was intended to learn more about the methods and effectiveness of the training retail Merchants and Planners receive "on the job" in the course of their careers.

We chose this focus because we believe there is an opportunity to improve 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.

Insight 1:

High satisfaction with training and development is rare.

With regards to training on processes, systems/tools and general "soft" skills (e.g., communication/presentation, time management, leadership), less than 20% of respondents indicate a high level of satisfaction with the training and development they have received.

Even for "mission-critical" and job-specific "hard" skills (e.g., negotiation, forecasting, retail math), less than a third of respondents report a high level of satisfaction with their training.

Insight 2:

"At Desk" training - with a peer or a manager - is the most common training method and Online/E-learning is the least common (and often unavailable) method across all training topics.

As we looked at all types of training content - process, systems/tools, job-specific "hard" skills and general "soft" skills - it is clear retailers are relying heavily on individual "At desk" training.

This means the training is tailored to the individual's immediate learning needs, but is also time- and labor-intensive for the person (peer or manager) who is delivering the training. This reliance also means that the training is likely to be inconsistent in both content and quality.

Insight 3:

Training outcomes are improved when an "At desk" component is in the mix.

In particular, "At desk" coaching from a manager should be embedded in the training approach, which can also employ other time- and cost-effective delivery methods.

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

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