How did your company manage the Black Friday challenge?

Last year, the British Retail Consortium estimated that £7.7 billion was spent in the UK across the Black Friday weekend, up from £4.5 billion the previous year. But what challenges does this bring to the staff and management teams of the UK’s major retailers?

One of the main challenges we see around the retail sector and Black Friday is that a lot of customers now choose to complete their shopping online, especially on the day itself – and the sector feels a big pressure here on warehouse storage, logistics, fast delivery and potential traffic on returns. 

However, conversely, over Black Friday weekend the sheer volume of customers shopping on the high street puts a strain on the staff/customer ratio in stores, often requiring companies to book in lots more seasonal retail assistants. Retailers also experience a lot of pressure on supplying stock levels on items that could be particularly popular during promotional offers.

One of the ways in which retailers can each such pressures is what we would recommend here at Qube Learning: Traineeships, Apprenticeships and Sector Based Work Academies. 

When a retail chain employs an apprentice, it allows them to train them specifically to that store or brand’s needs, creating a retail assistant that can be relied on to knowledgably and confidently ease the pressure at peak times, such as Black Friday and Christmas. 

Reports indicate that 62 per cent of UK adults participated in sales events in 2018, compared with 36 per cent in 2017, which only goes to demonstrate the need for retail sector training schemes. One of the first things apprentices are trained on is basic customer service and till skills, which allows the retail chain to open up more tills and provide more team members to support customer needs at busy times. With such high numbers, untrained seasonal staff aren’t going to be prepared to maximise in-store sales when compared to in-house retail apprentices.

In addition, employers may find it helpful to utilise training schemes for experienced staff members as well as new starters. Upskilling managers to better deal with current full-time team and the influx of temporary seasonal staff is a valuable use of training budgets and can make a significant improvement to instore efficiency and sales targets.

Companies can engage with Qube Learning to train current employees or recruit new trainees and we offer Retail Management training up to Level 4 awards, which includes coaching on how to deal with unexpected or additional workloads with practical techniques to use in store.

Author: Sarah Robinson, Retail Skills Tutor, Qube Learning

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