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Experiential Learning Activities for Retailing

Experiential learning tools give retailers the edge

The quality of customer interactions can be the key to repeat business for successful retailers. Customers appreciate staff who are competent, efficient and knowledgeable, especially when they need help. According to a Forbes survey, nearly a third of customers would stop shopping at a retailer after just one poor experience. Meanwhile, managers need skills to lead a distributed workforce, and ensure brand values are consistent

But how do you ensure your staff and their managers have the right skills to deal with the unexpected? How do staff gain experiences that allow them to grow without making costly mistakes?

MTa’s experiential learning kits can help you develop the skills your people need by using simulated activities to mimic real-world situations. Training activities are complex, so they will trigger a wide range of different behaviours among participants – reflecting exactly the kinds of unexpected behaviours we deal with in real life.

You could use an activity like Over the Bridge from the MTa Insights kit to help people build their team-working, communication skills, and customer focus.

In this activity, participants are placed in engaging scenarios where they learn from their own responses and those of others, and then reflect on experiences before implementing what they’ve learned, and learning again from that implementation.

Kits can be used equally to develop customer service, communication and leadership skills on the shop floor, or at head office to help emerging managers grow and develop their own style. And right across the organization, MTs’s activities foster greater team-working, problem solving and removal of barriers.

Retailers like A.F. Blakemore, the UK’s largest independent operator of convenience stores have had extensive success with a variety of MTa kits.

“We have lots of MTa Kits; MTa Insights; New Dimensions; Select; KanDo Lean; and Coaching Skills – we’re saving up for a Team Kit! We probably use MTa Insights the most,” says David Cartwright, Senior L&D officer at the food retailer/wholesaler.

With 5000 staff spread across 280 stores operating under the Spar fascia, David uses different kits at all levels in the company – for shop floor staff, team leaders, first line managers and senior managers.

His favourite activity is “Leading the team” from MTa Insights.

“It’s a particularly strong activity because it’s challenging for the participants and it really draws out the learning by strongly replicating behaviour observed in the workplace.”

He also says participants find the activities fun and engaging, and can follow their own learning curve: “It really helps people to learn, it’s easy to use and it’s good fun.”

The kits are completely versatile and can be tailored to your needs. They come with comprehensive guides so any of your trainers can pick them up and get started.

Other retailers like the Compleat Food Group have used MTa Learning materials as part of a wider training programme to add a different dimension.

And Steinhoff UK, owner of leading discount chain Poundland and furniture retailers Bensons and Harveys uses MTa kits for its assessment centres and conferences.

“We wanted to really get people working together and think in a different way. We wanted to move away from ‘normal training’, PowerPoints etc. and make people sweat and think,” says Steinhoff senior L&D manager Sam Rawlings.

Steinhoff uses MTa’s experiential learning materials in team-building events, conferences and management induction programmes.

“For team building, we use [them] to get teams focussed and working in the same direction. At a recent conference we ran an energizer with managers to get them up on their feet, working together.”

Find out more about how you can energize your training by exploring the MTa Insights suite of experiential learning activities. Over the Bridge is just one of  53 different experiential learning activities that allow your staff to learn, and crucially, implement what they’ve learned – wherever and whenever suits your business.

You don’t learn to walk by following rules: you learn by doing and falling over” -Richard Branson

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