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Increase sales in retail: 4 ways to motivate your team

Best Practices
Retail Insights


‘Employee engagement’ has often been dismissed as just another corporate buzzword, a metric to track or a trending LinkedIn topic to hashtag.  But in a space like retail, where customer-employee interactions are happening in real-time, all the time, it matters. 

Engaged retail employees are the key to positive customer experiences. 

The role of retail sales associates (RSAs) has evolved. In the dawn of the department store, attentive sales associates and tailored customer support were an expected part of the shopping experience. Over time, those interactions have become increasingly transactional and increasingly impersonal. 

With the rise of online shopping, we see another shift occurring. Suddenly, the edge that in-store shopping has is that helpful human interaction. The smiling face behind the counter can help customers differentiate products and make the best purchase possible. 

“Are we shopping for anything in particular today?” is now once again a welcome inquiry. In a market with limitless options and a digital world with people constantly pushing their product recommendations, it’s refreshing to have the support of a real person whose job it is to help you find that just-right thing — that’s actually worth your money. 

The power of person-to-person advice shouldn’t be overlooked —  according to a survey, 79% of shoppers value informed store associates, but over 80% feel they know more about products than encountered sales staff.

Yet the reality of stressors in the sector means that these vital employees are sometimes checked out behind the check-out counter. Turnover in retail is notoriously higher than any other industry,  with over 31% actively wanting to leave their retail job. 

This blog will define retail employee engagement and outline different strategies to boost morale and make in-store employees feel equipped, educated and eager in their roles.

Defining and measuring employee engagement

Before we dive into the details, let’s define employee engagement. It’s the emotional investment and commitment employees have toward their organization. This engagement can be measured through various metrics like job satisfaction surveys, feedback mechanisms and productivity levels. Engaged employees are more likely to go above and beyond, creating a positive ripple effect throughout the retail environment.

Why employee engagement matters in retail

Why does employee engagement hold such significance in the world of retail? The answer lies in the tangible benefits it brings to the table. Engaged RSAs are the backbone of positive customer interactions, offering personalized assistance that goes beyond mere transactions. This, in turn, fosters increased brand loyalty, as customers tend to gravitate towards establishments where they feel valued and understood. The reality is consumers will consistently pay more for a product or service when they experience great customer service. The link between employee engagement and higher sales conversion rates is undeniable. A motivated team translates into higher sales figures, contributing directly to the retailer’s bottom line.

4 steps to drive retail employee engagement

1. Effective onboarding and training

The journey toward an engaged retail team begins at the beginning — with a comprehensive onboarding and training program. Unfortunately, 1 in 4 retail employees report being unsatisfied with their onboarding experience.  This, in no small part, contributes to burnout and high turnover over time. 

Onboarding is foundational to long-term employee engagement. In a space like retail, your onboarding experience sets the stage for your employee’s perception of your investment in them. So start off right by giving them access to in-depth training, define expectations and KPIs and lay out a clear career trajectory. 

💡Tip: RSAs armed with product knowledge and exceptional customer service skills from the start of their employment are better equipped to navigate customer inquiries and provide tailored solutions. 

2. Creating a culture of recognition

Recognition serves as the cornerstone of a vibrant work culture. Establishing a higher level of recognition goes beyond mere acknowledgment; it involves appreciating the efforts of RSAs and the value they bring to the organization. Benefits and incentives become potent motivators, fostering a sense of accomplishment. 

One way to do this is by implementing a company-wide recognition program to encourage a regular cadence of acknowledgment and public appreciation. To express appreciation for retail employees at large retail chains or independent brick-and-mortar stores on a smaller scale, brands themselves can even simply engage with and comment on the content these employees share online. This small effort goes a long way in acknowledging RSAs and making them feel seen by the brands they carry. 

💡Tip: Employee recognition can come in lots of forms — like expanding employee benefits by giving them access to memberships on platforms like ExpertVoice to develop their professional knowledge and enjoy perks such as insider pricing on products.

Find out how partnering with ExpertVoice can be a value add for your retail employees.

3. Empowering with product knowledge

A key pillar of retail employee engagement is in-depth product knowledge. RSAs who possess a deep understanding of the products they’re selling exude confidence and credibility. Regular training sessions, coupled with easy access to product information, enable RSAs to provide accurate and persuasive recommendations to their customers. 

Some product knowledge best practices to keep in mind:

  • Offer convenient access to learning materials and resources via centralized platforms, catering to diverse learning preferences.
  • Make your education micro — it’s a proven methodology that microlearning helps people engage and retain knowledge. Check out what bite-sized learning looks like on ExpertVoice
  • Leverage a platform that allows them to access brand and product information across devices — to have on hand anywhere they need it (at home on their laptops or on mobile to access in the break room or on the sales floor). 

💡Tip: At ExpertVoice, enhancing product knowledge through education is kind of our thing. Give your associates direct access to training modules brands publish on ExpertVoice. These trainings are proven to be effective, increasing individual sales after completing just one course. They’re multiformat-with plenty of visuals, videos and even quick quizzes to reinforce learning. Learn more.

4. Incentives and rewards

Retail employees are on the front lines, dealing with demanding workloads and trying customer interactions day after day. So offering employees a little something extra as a reward for their hard work can go a long way. This could be performance-based bonuses, competitive challenges, clear promotion opportunities or even a good old-fashioned post-work pizza party. These perks and extra incentives drive engagement and enhance your reputation as an employer. 

💡Tip: Competitive challenges tap into the innate competitive spirit of RSAs, motivating them to excel further in their roles. ExpertVoice’s Retail Activation Campaigns (RACs) are an embodiment of this approach, encouraging healthy competition and continuous learning.

Success in stores starts with empowering employees 

Engaged and motivated RSAs are the bedrock upon which successful retail enterprises are built. Their influence spans customer interactions, brand loyalty and increased sales conversions. By following these strategies of effective onboarding and training, fostering a culture of recognition, empowering with product knowledge and continuously incentivizing employees through rewards,  retailers can ignite motivation within their teams and drive sales. 

Interested in implementing a modern solution like ExpertVoice to enhance retail training, offer additional employee benefits or gamify and incentivize employee engagement? Let’s talk.

It’s time for a better retail experience.

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