They are often a 'missing link' of knowledge for both retailers and suppliers. Without knowing exactly what the issues are at store level, how can anyone hope to maximise sales?
According to shoppers quizzed as part of this year's Convenience Tracking Programme (CTP) the five most important requirements when shopping in a convenience store are: availability; staff friendliness; value for money; speed of service/short queues; and not having to travel to a supermarket. In other words, staff and managers can directly influence four out of the five things most important to a convenience shopper.
So are staff fit and ready for the job in hand? As part of CTP 2009, HIM surveyed 1,942 sales staff and 603 managers/store owners from 34 convenience retail fascias to shed some light on the 'missing link' of knowledge.
Almost one in five sales staff would like to receive more training, most notably in security and additional information on how to increase sales in their stores. Recessions do tend to bring an increase in petty crime so staff need to be capable of monitoring this, but it's great news that they want to learn more to further grow the businesses they work for.
A training issue for suppliers is product knowledge. Sales staff are less than confident in their knowledge of certain products - 51% said they wouldn't feel comfortable recommending a wine to customers; a key issue to be addressed by wine suppliers.
And what about job satisfaction? About 40% of sales staff do not think they will be working in the same store in 12 months, and an alarming 13% of sales staff said they were less satisfied with their jobs compared with 12 months ago. This could be down to the fact that many of the staff tend to be students who need the job only for a limited time.
The industry is at risk of a huge amount of churn in the coming months - making training and staff morale even more important.