Nearly everybody has a story or two about leaving a store in anger when treated shabbily by an employee, and — conversely — about buying something because a sales associate was particularly helpful or knowledgeable.
The point is, of course, that "people skills" make a very special difference in a retail store.
The David F. Miller Center for Retailing at the University of Florida is about to quantify that fact in its national Talent Development Study, which will investigate Human Resources Management practices for recruiting, selection, training/development and evaluation — and the relationship of each to the retention of talented management trainees in early career stages.
"What is the foremost important thing in retailing? It is to deliver experiences that consumers want. Consumers´ experiences are formed by their contacts with products and services at stores," according to an article in the summer issue of the Miller Center´s "Retailing Education & Research" newsletter.
"The value of those experiences is created by people who manage products and services. Retail businesses," the newsletter continues, "are fundamentally people businesses, and employees are a key driver of a retail firms´ values."
Retailers, notes the newsletter article, are beginning to realize that their financial performance and their long-term sustainability are dependent on the talents of store managers and merchandise managers.
There are, however, no industry-wide standards for measuring employee performance, which is the reason the Miller Center is conducting the study, sponsored by the National Retail Federation Foundation and the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
To participate in the study, visit www.cba.ufl.edu/crer/retailhr or contact Dr. Hyunjoo Oh, research director at the Miller Center for Retailing: firstname.lastname@example.org, 352-392-7166, ext. 1269.