When customers visit a retail store, they hope to encounter courteous, knowledgeable employees. Many people choose to shop in a store over shopping online specifically so they will have employees available for questions about the products they are considering purchasing. However, many shoppers leave empty handed because they couldn’t get the answers they were looking for. Retailers looking to improve the customer experience and increase sales should start with employee education.

Employees can benefit from training in a variety of professional areas; product knowledge, company policy, and customer service, just to name a few. There are various professional services that offer training programs for employees. Some are electronic and are more conducive to retail shift-work than a classroom setting type of class. Employees can train online either during their shifts or at home, making it easier to get them trained without taking them out of the shift rotation.

If you are running a smaller retail store or boutique, your training may be very specific to your store. In this case, you may want to create programs on your own to improve your employees’ customer service skills. Putting a system in place will make it easier to keep the employees’ knowledge up to date.

Customers’ number one complaint about the retail industry is that the employees are not knowledgeable about the products. This is a good place to start with your employees. Boutiques generally only carry a limited number of brands and types of items, making it easier for employees to gain knowledge about the products. Call your suppliers and ask for company info, selling points for their products, or special employee training information. Most companies will have this information handy to send to you, or you may be able to find it on their web site.

Hold small training sessions or meetings with your employees to inform them about what makes each brand or product special. If you carry competing brands, then it may be a good idea to train them on the two brands at once. Customers really appreciate knowing pros and cons of each product and often buy the one that knowledgeable employees recommend.

Have separate trainings for company policy. Sometimes this involves more than you may put into a handbook. Come up with scenarios that have employees decide which is the best course of action, and explain to them why you would have them act in that certain way. Lots of times owners and managers would prefer that employees refer certain situations to them instead of having the employees handle irate customers.

Customers are also concerned with being treated with courtesy and respect. Part of that expectation includes having the store set up in a user-friendly manner. Not only should employees be knowledgeable and polite, but the store itself should be easy to navigate. Clothing racks should be stocked with all sizes. The garment racks in your store should be orderly and fully stocked at all times. Be sure that you stress to your employees the importance of this often overlooked step. The garment rack rack itself is part of your store’s presentation and personality.

Once your employees are knowledgeable, courteous, and keep your store in order, your customers will have the shopping experience that they are looking for in your store or boutique.

About the Author: John Garvey is on the staff of Only Garment Racks, a leading online source of clothing racks including garment racks. Find a high quality clothing rack or garment rack at