I was invited by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) to participate in their Facebook Fans Event at the Singapore Institute of Retail Studies (SIRS) last week. The event was a huge success, largely due to the months of preparation by SIRS and WDA. 🙂
4 Reasons Why I Enjoyed The WDA Facebook Fans Event:
- The fantastic goodie bags from SIRS and Victoria’s Secret 😀 Come on, admit it. You love attending events with great goodie bags too, don’t you? 😀 The participants were divided into 2 groups and the group which completed the Retail Consortium Game with the fastest timing won shopping vouchers.
- The Panel Discussion on “Training for the Fast Changing World of Retail and its Customers”
- The Retail Consortium Game – Participants visited 4 training rooms, designed to look like a Supermarket (Point of Sales), Petrol Station (Merchandise, Workplace Safety & Health, Professional Image), Visual Merchandising Lab, and a Departmental Store. * 5mins in the life of a cashier! * * Learning to display products * *Cleaning windscreens at a “Petrol Station” *Tackling an “oil spill” *
- The Food – yummy bento set for dinner, and snacks after the Retail Consortium Game
What I learnt from the event:
- The importance of TEAMWORK * The winning team! *
- Difference between working for your father, and for a boss Ms Nita Chauhan (Training Manager, Southeast Asia, The Valiram Group) has extensive experience in the retail industry. She was once the Country Manager for Forever21, the Operations Manager for Pet Lovers Centre, Floor Manager for Marks & Spencer, and the Operations Manager for Goldheart. She had previously worked for 10 years in her father’s business, but it did not prepare her for the world outside, as it required a shift in mindset (from “towkay” to worker).
- How to deal with difficult customers: Preparedness
- Ms Nita Chauhan (Victoria’s Secret, The Valiram Group) shared that the first step to understanding your customer is to really listen. Establish a human connection and demonstrate empathy and appreciation. She wants the staff at Victoria’s Secret stores to give customers the same warm, fuzzy feeling as when they walk into a restaurant and the wait staff ask “Do you want the usual?” and leave the customer feeling like returning to the store, and also telling all of his/her friends.
- The retail industry is fascinating, because it is different across countries. In the US, it would be perfectly ok to greet a customer with “What brings you in today?” If a sales associate in Singapore poses the same question to a Singaporean customer, the latter might respond with a “Why? Cannot come in, is it?” 😀
- The Importance of Training! As customers, we often get upset with retail staff without really understanding what it is like to be in their shoes. I had thought that cashiering duties should be a piece of cake (apparent not! Imagine a line of angry customers forming while the customer you are serving is paying for his/her purchase with a bag of 5-cent coins!), and that stocking a display shelf shouldn’t be too difficult (but what happens when a particular product is out of stock? Do you leave that shelf space empty?). Bosses really do need to send their staff for training so employees can carry out their duties more efficiently and delight the customers.
Here’s how WDA and SIRS can help:
WDA provides funding of up to 90% for the course fees (more information at http://www.wda.gov.sg or download Learn SG for iOS/Android)
‘Like’ WDA’s Facebook Page and be invited to their next *exclusive* Facebook fans event: https://www.facebook.com/wdasingapore
SIRS also provides training courses such as:
1) Diploma in Retail Management
2) Manage an Online Retail Business
3) Set up a Retail Business
I believe the Online Retail Business course will be very useful for people who intend to set up an online store, such as a blogshop. Instead of going into a new business “blindly”, why not receive all the help you can get beforehand? I believe the course fees are only S$238 (before GST, after 70% funding).
- Victoria’s Secret is HIRING! Email firstname.lastname@example.org or speak with Store Managers at any of their stores: 313@Somerset, Ion, JEM, MBS, Resorts World Sentosa, Wisma Atria
- The new Lifelong Learning Institute will be open end-Dec 2013/Jan 2014 at a location close to Paya Lebar MRT/Singapore Post Centre. The new address will be 11 Eunos Road 8, Lifelong Learning Institute, #08-02 to -04 S(408601)
Some of SIRS’ current courses:
1) Essential Retail Skills Programme (32 training hours, S$114 before GST for Singaporeans and PRs)
2) Retail Certified Service Professional Programme (S$65 before GST, after funding)
3) Business Management Programmes (from S$75 to S$225 before GST, after funding) *The ‘Write a Business Plan’ and ‘Implement a Business Plan’ courses are interesting to me, as I have no idea how to go about writing business plans. Also, there are programmes regarding cash flow reports, for instance 🙂
4) Retail WSQ Programes
5) Service Excellence WSQ Programmes
Enquiries: 6222 7477 or email@example.com
Singapore Institute of Retail Studies – 490 Lorong 6 Toa Payoh, #08-10/11 HDB Hub Biz Three, S(310490) http://www.sirs.edu.sg
(SIRS will also be moving to the new Lifelong Learning Institute at the end of this year)