How to Train Your Staff to be In-Store Experts

Customer interaction is the single most important aspect of every grocery employees job. It’s one thing to be a great stocker or date checker, a detail-oriented cashier or excellent manager. However, if you can’t assist customers, answer their questions, or develop a connection with them, you’re not adding a lot of value to a grocery business.

That’s because grocery stores have been a community gathering place as long as they’ve existed. They’re the space where you bump into your neighbors as you’re each buying food for the tailgate later, or for your weekly shop. 

There’s a familial aspect to grocery stores that needs to be reflected in every aspect of your business – including your employees. As a rule, they need to be able to talk to your customers as if they are lifelong friends while maintaining a certain level of expertise about your store, your brand, and your products.

We’ve talked about that person-to-person interaction in the past, so today we’re going to cover the other side: developing your employees into in-store experts.


How to Train Your Staff to Be In-Store Experts

Empower employees

First and foremost, if you want your staff to become experts on your store you need to give them the ability to do so. If you have supervisors who are prone to micromanaging your associates, you’ll find that they never get the chance to learn from their mistakes because they’re never given the chance to learn from them. They never feel like they need to know the answers to customer questions, because their manager has all the answers.

You’re taking the wind out of their sails before they’ve even left port.

Give your employees responsibility right out of the gate by either letting them lead the way on a project or own a specific task day in and day out. Through that empowerment, they’ll develop the knowledge of your store’s operations and products that they’ll need to provide A+ customer experience.


Include education at every opportunity

In addition to giving employees on-the-job training, provide more traditional forms of education that they can sink their teeth into for extra knowledge. Set up daily tips and news alerts when they clock in at the beginning of their shift. Ask them to watch quick, digestible video trainings on new products, brand messaging, or corporate updates when they occur. Explain the reasons “why” behind their responsibilities so that they have context for why they should put extra effort into a task. When you empower employees to take on responsibility, and give them the education they need to do it successfully, you’re on your way to developing an in-store expert.


Teach staff how to build relationships with customers

Finally, being an expert means nothing if your employees aren’t relaying their knowledge to your customers. If you have an associate who is timid or reluctant to speak with customers freely, you can provide them with easy-to-use scripts to open a conversation, or work with them through role playing training so that they’re less nervous about speaking with your customers. Once they’re comfortable, they’ll have all of the tools they’ll need to be an in-store expert: customer connection, industry-specific knowledge, and the empowerment to take on whatever problem comes their way.