Over the past couple of years, we have been responding to the changing needs of our clients as well as anticipating future requirements in terms of having a work ready talent pool. These have been our observations and learning:
- That there is still a dearth of good merchandise planning talent.
- There is no consistency in the skills and competencies by job title across retailers. This means it is difficult to assess capability during the interview process as job title and experience, or ways of working differ dramatically.
- There is limited time for team members to take time away from their desks for training, and on-the-job training is inconsistent.
- Just-in-time learning is increasingly important, delivered online with the ability for social learning and the all-important gamification built in, keeping the learner engaged.
- Millennials expect swift progress in their careers and are quick to move to another company where they feel this will be achieved.
- Many younger team members are reliant on spreadsheets with pre-populated formulas and are lacking in fundamental retail maths knowledge.
- There is a need to strengthen product design thinking amongst assistant/trainee buyers.
- Gen Z are eschewing traditional bachelor’s degrees, citing debt without the guarantee of future employment as the main reason.
- Gen Z have a social conscience and want to work for a company that demonstrates clear social values.
- Sustainability, both from an environmental and ethical perspective is increasingly important to the customer and team members who want to work for and buy from brands that demonstrate a strong commitment to sustainability and the environment. However, retail is one of the least sustainability focussed industries and one of the most polluting.
How we have responded…
Our online academy courses built in conjunction with our UK sister company deliver global best practice skills training through a suite of 18+ courses. This is hosted on our social learning platform with gamification built in as well as a chat room to facilitate peer-to-peer learning.
We can also provide a course tutor/mentor for group sessions as well as provide a complete trainee buyer or trainee planner program.
How good are your current buying and merchandise planning team? When you are recruiting, how can you take an objective view of candidates’ capabilities? And, where does the candidate sit in comparison with your current team?
To answer these questions and give retailers and recruiters a benchmark, we have created the Assessment Centre with two streams of assessments, one for Buying and one for Planning, and three levels of assessment in each;
- Entry (aimed at allocator/buyers assistant level),
- Intermediate (aimed at assistant/trainee/junior buyer/planner level), and
- Advanced (aimed at Buyer/Senior Buyer or Planner/Senior Planner level).
We have developed a sustainability workshop to provide buyers and planners the information and tools to incorporate sustainability into their departmental/category strategies. Using the three horizons approach, the team identify issues and opportunities pertinent to their product area and then set short, medium, and longer-term goals to ensure a continuous focus on this area.
This workshop is supported by an online learning experience which provides articles, videos and best practice case studies from which your team can draw.
To ensure that our retail clients have a pipeline of well-trained young talent, we have launched a unique six-month program. Each student is paired with a retail intern partner so that they can apply their newfound skills and knowledge whilst studying online. The student gains valuable experience, both have time to see if they are a good fit for each other and, our retail clients can be certain their potential new hire will have all the pre-requisite skills to hit the ground running.
Retail intern partners can post their job vacancies on our jobs board free of charge, and contact potential recruits through our members portal. The program is divided into six sections and covers:
- MONTH 1: Introduction to Retail Buying
- MONTH 2: Strategy & Planning
- MONTH 3: Trends & Product Development
- MONTH 4: Sales Performance & Pricing
- MONTH 5: Sourcing & Negotiation
- MONTH 6: Career Progression