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As we settle into a post-pandemic “normal,” the retail world can shift their attention back to the initiatives that drive a significant part of their annual revenue. We’re talking product launches. Season promotions (the holidays are coming!). Even operational shifts, like the protocol changes and updated processes we’ve all become so familiar with over the past two years. 

And as the key events take place, there’s one question retailers need to ask: is my retail staff prepared? 

After all, your associates are crucial to the success of these product launches. If they’re not prepared, if they’re not armed with the right information, if they don’t know the promo inside and out, your organization is at risk to lose precious revenue – not to mention deliver poor customer experience. 

But here’s the challenge: when your retail staff numbers in the thousands and is spread across the country (or beyond!), how can you know if everyone is prepared? How can you be sure that every location is staying consistent with their execution? What’s the metric that measures workforce readiness

Digital communication to the rescue! With the right retail communication strategy in place, you’ll be able to identify and support at-risk employees or locations before your product launch – and even learn the cause, whether it’s missing information, ineffective communication, you name it.

Ready to set your next product launch up for success? Here are 5 questions you can ask to know if your retail staff is prepared for your next product launch:

1. Am I sharing enough information? 

There’s no way your retail staff will be prepared if they don’t have access to the right information. This might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how often this step is missed, and crucial information is left un-shared. To help with knowledge retention, keep your internal communications bite-sized – but also keep larger resources like handbooks and launch assets on-hand in an easy-to-access hub. 

This is also where the right technology comes into play. In a recent survey, 70% of deskless workers reported that more technology would help them do their jobs better. Having a digital platform they can access from their phones (we know a great one!) ensures they have the right information at the right time, which can be the secret sauce of a successful product launch. 

2. Am I testing their knowledge retention?

Sure, you can monitor your workforce metrics to see if your associates are reading your communications. But there’s a big difference between reading information and retaining it. The forgetting curve tells us that workers are likely to forget up to 70% of new information within 24 hours. That’s why it’s so important to avoid overload by reiterating information in bite-sized pieces – and focus on testing employees on an ongoing basis. 

The best way to know if they’ve truly absorbed the intel is to test them. Use quick, engaging quizzes to see if your retail staff knows the key elements of your product launch plan. Look for major knowledge gaps that need to be addressed at the employee, location, or regional level. 

3. Am I reinforcing tasks?

Ah, operational consistency. A crucial part of any successful product launch. A tried-and-tested way to ensure that your workforce is sticking to your SOPs and keeping execution as consistent as possible is to reinforce tasks on an ongoing basis. In fact, this repeated recall of information can improve knowledge retention by up to 80 percent.

This could be done at each location during pre-shift huddles, or scaled up to the full organization using a central task management system (Nudge has one baked right into its communication platform!). 

4. Am I pulse-checking their confidence?

Employee pulse checks aren’t just for employee engagement. You can use these quick surveys to ask your retail staff how confident they are about upcoming product launches, new promos, or other company-wide initiatives. This is a great way to uncover concerns at the associate level that have gone completely unnoticed at head office. Let’s not forget that terrifying iceberg of ignorance

5. Am I gathering feedback?

Another way to know if your staff is prepared is to gather upward feedback. This will not only identify problems before the product launch, it will also unearth those untapped ideas and insights your retail staff is holding on to that could improve the process. Fostering a feedback culture is crucial at any time, but when you’re gearing up for a product launch, you need to be especially open to hearing concerns, ideas, and best practices that can boost efficiency at scale, and remove any unnecessary barriers that could hinder a successful product launch. 

Asking yourself any of these five questions is a great way to check in on the effectiveness of your retail staff, the level of workforce readiness you’ve achieved, and the operational consistency of your organization as a whole. But answering all five of these questions when you’re gearing up for a product launch is a fantastic way to know exactly how prepared your workforce is – and what you need to do to set everyone up for success.