Certificate II in Retail Operations

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					    Certificate II in Retail Operations

        Advising on Products and

National Code   WRRS 2B      Advise on Products and Services
National Code   WRRS 2B/01   Develop product/service knowledge
         Certificate II in Retail Operations

This Unit will require you to undertake various learning activities. Each learning
activity is introduced with a icon. Each icon is explained below.

                          An activity section is indicated with an Activity Icon. The activity could
                              comprise of a series of questions, tasks, research projects,
                              homework or combinations.

                          A Research activity will request you to gather information from various
                              sources to support what you have learnt through this unit
              Certificate II in Retail Operations

   This Unit will require you to undertake various learning activities. Each learning
   activity is introduced with a icon. Each icon is explained below.

                          A Task is an activity that would require you to create, develop or
                          report on certain subjects, processes or procedures related to
                          the subject matter being taught.

                          A Question activity will ask you to answer a series of questions to
                          test your knowledge of what was presented in the course

If you are currently employed in a retail workplace, many of the learning activities can be undertaken at your place
of employment If you are not currently employed in a retail workplace, most of the activities simulate a working
environment and/or require you to research an operating retail environment
      Certificate II in Retail Operations

• Requirements
• For this course you will need a calculator,
  access to a computer and access to the internet.
• You will also need folders and files to store your
  written reports, information gathered during your
  research and any notes you may create. There
  are several times you are requested to present
  your folders and materials to your teacher for
  review and comment.
     Certificate II in Retail Operations

• Section One - Developing Product

• Section Two - Recommending
  Specialised Products
      Certificate II in Retail Operations

• Section Introduction
• As a retail professional, you will be expected to
  achieve the highest level of product knowledge
  possible. Product knowledge is a key factor in
  providing quality customer service, leading to
  higher sales and more profits.
• At some point in your retail career, you may be
  asked to help a colleague with product details
  when they are assisting customers, or may be
  required to train other staff on product features
  or services being offered.
      Certificate II in Retail Operations

• Product knowledge is a collection of details,
  features, benefits and supporting information
  about a product or service. Gathering and
  mentally storing this information is only part of
  gaining product knowledge. The other equally
  important key is the ability to effectively impart
  this information to others.
• Gaining high levels of product knowledge is not
  always simple. A plan on how to gain this
  knowledge needs to be created, and requires
      Certificate II in Retail Operations

• Levels of Product Knowledge
• The level of product knowledge depends on
  several factors.
• Take the example of staff working in a barbeque
  store. The store provides several types of
  barbecues with different features and price
  levels. Customers would expect a sales
  assistant to know what the features and benefits
  of each barbeque are, the operation of each,
  and the reasons for differing price levels. Ideally,
  the staff should also know the above details
  about the various accessories on offer.
      Certificate II in Retail Operations

• Alternatively, staff working in a supermarket
  could not possibly know details about the
  thousands of products available in the store. It
  would be more likely that the customers would
  enquire about the location of the products within
  the store.
• Stores specialising in products such as white
  goods or entertainment systems require the staff
  to possess a high level of product knowledge.
  Technical products or services again require a
  high level of product knowledge
   Certificate II in Retail Operations

  – Give an example of a retail store that would require staff to have
    product knowledge on one or two products.

  – Give an example of a retail store that would require staff to have
    product knowledge on most or all of their products .

  – Give an example of a retail store that would prove impossible to
    have staff that now about all their products.
       Certificate II in Retail Operations

• Product Categories
  – All retailers selling merchandise work on what they call product
    categories. A product category has products that are similar in
    features or function, for instance, tyres.
  – Using the 'tyre' example, a retailer that sold auto parts would have
    three levels of product categorisations. 1 2 3
     Certificate II in Retail Operations

• Department
  – The retailer selling auto parts would have a
    department consisting of products of the
    same use or theme - in this example, tyres.
  – Supermarkets have a pet food department;
    hardware stores have paint departments.
       Certificate II in Retail Operations

• Sections / Sub Categories
  – Within these departments, there would be several other sections,
    or sub categories. Again referring to the tyre example, the tyre
    department in the auto parts retailer would consist of sections or
    sub categories that would include standard tyres, high
    performance tyres, four-wheel drive tyres and truck tyres.
  – The supermarket would have a pet food department, with a cat
    food section, a dog food section, and a bird food section (among
  – The paint department would have an interior paint section, an
    exterior paint section, a furniture paint section and a craft paint
         Certificate II in Retail Operations

•   Product Units

    – Within each product section, there would be individual product units.
      These are usually how products are displayed in a store. Each product
      unit usually consists of the same type of product, or products that all
      have the same use.
    – In the tyre example, one product unit could consist of all the Michelin
      High Performance Tyres, and in another unit Goodyear High
      Performance Tyres. Or, alternatively, the section could consist of tyres
      that are separated into units based on type/size of truck, regardless of
    – In the pet food department, the food would be separated into animal
      sections, then further separated into units that consist of separate
      manufacturers. Again, it could be further separated into dry food and
      canned food.
    – The paint department of a hardware store would have a section for
      exterior paints, and this section could be divided into high gloss, gloss
      or satin finish units.
    – Retailers use product categories to track sales, order products and
      display products.
  Certificate II in Retail Operations

 – Pick a retailer of your choice and describe a department within that
   store, describe the sections within that department, and finally
   describe the various product units within each section.
     • Department
     • Sub Sections
     • Product Units
          Certificate II in Retail Operations

•   Product Ranges
     – The range of products available will depend on the type of retailer.
       Specialty stores (stores that specialise in a certain range of products)
       may have a limited product range, but numerous variations of that
       particular type of product in the range.
     – An example of this could involve a retailer that sells kitchen appliances.
       The range is labelled kitchen appliances, yet there would most likely be
       product departments within the store, including refrigerators,
       dishwashers, stovetops and ovens, with several makes and models of
     – On the other hand, a large hardware store has a large range of products
       including building supplies, gardening supplies, electrical
       appliances/tools, paints and so on which would equate to many product
       categories and product units.
     – To gain product knowledge you need to understand what makes up the
       various departments in your store; what and where are the various
       sections are; and the individual units that make up those sections. If the
       store has a large range, you may be assigned to a certain department. If
       it is a smaller operation, you may be required to deal with customer
       enquires in several or all departments
       Certificate II in Retail Operations

• Product Knowledge through Research
  – As mentioned before, your level of product knowledge is dependent on
    the type and size of store you work in. Once you know what products
    you will be responsible for and the level of knowledge you will require, it
    is time to begin developing your product knowledge.

  – Begin by researching. Start by researching the store's most
    common/fastest selling/highest in demand product line. It best to start
    small and learn faster than start trying to learn about too many products
    at once, and not become properly knowledgeable on any one product
    for a long time.
       Certificate II in Retail Operations

•   Research Methods
•   There are five methods you can use:
•   Direct information gathering
•   Indirect information gathering
•   Information based on comparisons
•   Understanding store services
•   Learning about the competition
         Certificate II in Retail Operations
• Direct Information

   – Gathering direct information is the best form of research and the most
     reliable form of acquired knowledge. It involves personal research and
     requires you to gather the information from reliable sources. Direct
     information should be the type of information you concentrate on.
     Examples of places from which you can gather direct information can
   – Product brochures, user manuals, specification documents, the
   – Trade magazines, product reports, product reviews
   – Training sessions, product demonstrations, trade shows, sales
   – Promotional campaigns, television commercials, advertising
   – Personal experience with the product
           Certificate II in Retail Operations
•   Indirect Information
•   Indirect information is the next best form of research and should only be
    used as support information for direct information gathering. Do not base
    your product knowledge on indirect information.
•   Indirect information can come from other sources, for example, customers
    who have used the product may give valuable feedback, as can co-workers,
    friends, suppliers, etc.
•   Always take indirect information and confirm its reliability from what you
    already know. Genuine product information, using the product yourself, and
    other sources can help to confirm this indirect information.
•   Be careful that you do not confuse factual information with information
    based on opinion.
•   Example
•   The mobile phone is now available in a more compact size which is too
    small." Fact: The mobile phone is now available in a more compact size
    Opinion: It is too small
•   Always base your product knowledge on facts. This is important when
    providing product information to customers. Consumer protection laws
    protect customers from retailers providing customers with false and/or
    misleading information.
         Certificate II in Retail Operations

• Product Comparisons
Your store may be offering several similar products where a customer
  will need assistance in making a choice.
   – In order to assist the customer in making that choice, you would need to
     research the differences between each product, including differences in
     features, differences in benefits, and price differences (and the reasons
     for these variations).
   – After combining your understanding of the customers needs with the
     acquired knowledge of each product, you will be able to assist the
      customer in making a choice they will be satisfied with.
           Certificate II in Retail Operations

• Store Services
     – Product knowledge also includes associated services that the store
        provides. These may appeal to the customer and lead them to buy the
     – These services could include;
     – Payment options
     – Lay-by service
     – Delivery
     – Assembly service
     – Repair service
     – Warranties
     – Free clothing alterations
     – Maintenance services
•   Competitive stores may offer same or similar products at the same or
    similar price. It is usually the additional services that a store provides that
    affects the customers decision of where to purchase the product.
             Certificate II in Retail Operations

•   The store's offers are usually available in the store policy and procedure
    manuals. They should also be found in advertising materials and displays
    around the store.

•   Questioning your supervisor or experienced colleagues will also help in
    learning the various services that your store provides.
          Certificate II in Retail Operations

• Competition
•   If customers are comparing your store with other stores, it is important to
    find out what the others stores are offering. This is getting to know your
•   In your research of the competition, you would first need to find out who
    they are. This can be done by asking the store management, by looking in
    advertising materials, or in directories.
•   Most retailers encourage staff to visit competitor's stores, and management
    often send their staff out to do the research.
•   From your competitor, you should find out;
•   The products on offer
•   The pricing of products
•   The services provided (and costs for these services)
•   Any perceived competitive advantage such as pricing, product
    range, or level of customer service
    Certificate II in Retail Operations


   • Name the most reliable research method of attaining product

   • What sources you would use to gain product knowledge?

   • What should you try and learn about your competition?
        Certificate II in Retail Operations

• Sharing Your Product Knowledge
   – As time goes on and your knowledge and experience increase, you may
     be required to pass some of your knowledge on to others whom you
     work with.
   – On the other hand, more experienced and knowledgeable colleagues
     may share their knowledge with you. This is especially important in
     situations where the store is very busy and you need to assist in an area
     or sell a product you may not be familiar with.

• Training Sessions
   – Many professional retailers schedule regular training sessions and have
     experienced staff train other staff in product knowledge and services.
     Suppliers of products or manufacturers sometimes attend these
     sessions, and further assist in the training related to their products.
   – If you are asked to conduct the training in a training session, ask your
     manager or an experienced colleague for advice on how to prepare for
     the session.
      Certificate II in Retail Operations

• One on One Sessions
  – This is where one experienced staff member trains another on products
    and services. This can be done in quieter times. Often, a co-worker may
    come into your department and learn about products, or alternatively
    you may go to theirs and learn about their products.

• Section Summary
  – Now you know the importance of product knowledge and how best to
    attain it. You will learn that with a high level of product knowledge
    comes increased confidence when dealing with customers, and this will
    lead you even further towards providing quality customer service as a
    professional retailer.
     Certificate II in Retail Operations

• What have you leant

• The following questions are yes and no
• If you cannot answer yes to each
  question it is suggested you review the
  material again.
   Certificate II in Retail Operations

   • Different stores would require staff to have varying levels of
     product knowledge. Can you explain how this is could be?
   • Do you know what the sections within a department are
   • Can you explain how a product would be in a separate
     'product unit' within a 'product section'? Are you able to give
     an example of this?
   • Do you understand how different stores can carry various
     sizes of product ranges? Are you able to give examples of
      Certificate II in Retail Operations

  • Can you understand the best method of acquiring product
  •   Can you explain how to research using the method of:
  •   direct information gathering?
  •   indirect information gathering?
  •   information based on comparisons?
  •   understanding store services?
  •   learning about the competition?
  • Other then gaining knowledge from colleagues? Do you
    know what many retailers provide?
       Certificate II in Retail Operations

• Section Introduction
  – Customers become more confident when making a purchase decision
    when the product knowledge being imparted by the sales staff is of a
    high level and is easy to understand. Obviously, this will increase sales
    for your store, and in turn lead to greater responsibilities and promotions
    within the retail industry for you.
       Certificate II in Retail Operations

• Imparting Specialised Product Knowledge

  – In the previous section you were taught how to continually expand your
    product knowledge, and as we mentioned earlier, these same methods
    are used to gain that specialised product knowledge level.
  – Now, the important skill is to learn is how to effectively impart that
    information on to a customer in a way that is meaningful and easy to
  – There are a few tips when imparting detailed information about a
  – Avoid using technical terms or jargon (this may embarrass or
    confuse the customer)
  – Stop every so often and ask if they understand what is being said
  – Describe benefits or features of the product that relate directly to
    their needs
     Certificate II in Retail Operations

– Most importantly, do not pretend to know the answers. If you are asked
  a question you do not know the answer to, find out from someone
  experienced. If possible, listen, and make a note of the new knowledge
  you have just learnt so that you can use it next time.
– You will notice your communication skills increase as your product
  knowledge increases, creating confidence and conviction in the delivery
  of information to the customer.
     Certificate II in Retail Operations

    • A customer asks you whether or not a product can perform a certain
      function. You are unsure. What do you do? Do you say 'I think it
      does'? Give the reason for your answer

• Customer Needs
    • In the unit 'Interacting with Customers', you would have learnt the
      importance of establishing the customer's needs. The skills you
      would have developed in questioning and listening should then lead
      you to be able to advise on products that would meet those
      particular needs.
         Certificate II in Retail Operations

• It is important to realise that emotions, logic or a mixture of both can
  sometimes influence the customer's buying decisions. By
  questioning the customer and listening to their answers, you will get
  a feel on how to present the products you believe will satisfy those
Examples of Logic verses Emotion;
    – Man #1 comes into mobile phone store and wants to buy a new phone
      to replace the one he already has. His current phone is still in perfectly
      good working condition, but he wants one that looks more modern and
      has more features.
    – Man #1's buying decision will most likely be based on emotions. He
      does not seem to have a real grasp on what features, type, make, or
      brand of phone he wants, just the desire for the new phone to look good
      and have a bunch of neat features
     Certificate II in Retail Operations

– Another fellow, Man #2, comes into the same store and wants to
  buy new phones for his staff. He illustrates his need for phones that
  have a long battery life, that are durable and that come with hands
  free kits for cars.
– Man #2's buying decision will be based on logic. They are not for
  himself. He knows exactly what the phones need to have as far as
  features and accessories.
– Teenage Girl #1 comes into the same phone store. He parents have
  requested that she needs to buy a phone for security reasons when she
  is out at night with her friends. The daughter wants the latest phone that
  is considered trendy and cool, but her parents have set a money limit.
– Teenage Girl #1's buying decision will be both logical and emotional.
  She knows how much she can spend, and she needs the phone for
  safety reasons. However, the final choice will be based on emotion. The
  phone will need to be trendy and cool.
    Certificate II in Retail Operations

      – Describe a personal experience in which you have bought
        something totally based on emotion.
      – Now describe an experience where emotions played no part at
        all in your purchase decision.
     Certificate II in Retail Operations

• Presenting Product Options

    • In each of the previous examples, the sales staff member would
      have a better understanding on what products to present to each of
      the customers for their evaluation, especially if they had asked
      questions. However, there are many types, models, features and
      makes of phones.

    • As the customer moves closer to a purchase decision, it may be
      time to fine-tune the various product options by asking more
      questions, such as;
           Certificate II in Retail Operations

•   What is your budget?
•   Is the colour of the phone important?
•   Is there any other features you require in the phone?
•   Will you be using the phone overseas?
•   Will you be trading in any old phones?
•   Will you be using a particular phone company?
•   Is size or weight of the phone an issue for you?

                             This one
                             This one

After asking these questions, you will be able to choose which features
of specific products will match the customer's needs.
     Certificate II in Retail Operations

• Creating a Buying Environment
    • At this point, both you and the customer should feel confident that
      their needs have been identified. The next step is creating a buying
    • A buying environment is created when the needs have been clearly
      established and the staff member begins to present products that
      are most likely to satisfy those needs.
    • A buying environment is created when you;
        – Clearly communicate product features and benefits
        – Involve the customer
        – Give accurate advice
     Certificate II in Retail Operations

• Communicating Clearly
    • You will have learnt by now how important communication skills are
      when dealing with customers. No two customers will be alike.
    • Customers of different age groups, backgrounds and levels of
      income will be receiving your product recommendations. Each one
      will need a different approach. You will have to adapt so that you
      can communicate effectively at a level they can understand.
      Certificate II in Retail Operations

• Selling the Features and Benefits
     • The buying environment begins to strengthen when the customer is
       shown the various features, and the sales assistant explains how
       these features will benefit them.
     • Do not concentrate on the features alone. Demonstrate using the
       product if possible, or describe the features, their purpose, and then
       explain how these features will benefit the customer.
     • Lets use the previous example of Man #2, who is buying phones for
       his staff, and show how the benefits of a particular phone can be
       sold to him.
           Certificate II in Retail Operations
• Sales Assistant:
•   "This is the Strata mobile phone, Model 3451, the latest model of mobile
    phones on the market, so, with this one, you will be buying the latest in
    mobile phone technology.
•   This phone was supplied with a battery that has a 16-hour long standby life
    and a 10-hour talk life without being charged. With that length of battery life
    your staff would have no problems with batteries going dead during working
    hours. It comes with a car charger and a home charger so your staff will
    have the convenience of both.
•   The phone is compact so it can be placed in a top pocket, and has various
    ring tones as well as a vibrating function, so your staff can be alerted of
    incoming calls or messages without interrupting meetings.
•   The case of the phone, as you can see, is attractive but actually deceptively
    durable. It is able to withstand a drop from 2 metres onto pavement without
    damaging the phone. If the phone does get damaged, however, we have a
    repair service that will provide a loan phone if the repair period is lengthy.
•   Another excellent feature of this phone is it comes complete with a hands
    free kit and is easy to install in the car, so there is no need to pay for
    expensive installations.
•   We are willing to offer a 20% discount on the phones if you are purchasing
    three or more units. That's a substantial saving for your company. I can
    have the phones ready for you today so that your staff will have the use of
    them tomorrow."
     Certificate II in Retail Operations

• SHOW Features
• SELL Benefits
    • Feature—They are the latest phones on the market Benefit—Buying
      the latest technology
    • Feature—Long battery life
    • Benefit—Staff can use without the worry of dead batteries
    • Feature—Two types of battery chargers
    • Benefit—Convenience
    • Feature—Ring tones and vibrating alert
    • Benefit—Staff can be alerted of incoming calls without interrupting
    • Feature—Attractive and durable case
    • Benefit—Can take the wear and tear of business use while looking
    Certificate II in Retail Operations
•   Feature—Repair service with loan phone
•   Benefit—Not caught without a phone if repairs need to be
•   MADE
•   Feature—Hands free kit included which is easy to install
•   Benefit - NO extra cost for kit or installation
•   Feature—Discount pricing for bulk buy
•   Benefit - Savings for company
•   Feature—Immediate availability
•   Benefit—Staff have phones sooner

      –   Involve the Customer
      –   Human beings have five senses:
      –   Touch
      –   Sight
      –   Smell
      –   Taste
      –   Hearing
 Certificate II in Retail Operations

• When presenting a customer with a product allow them to use as
  many of those senses as possible when evaluating a product.
• Supermarkets and delicatessens often have food sampling areas
  where a demonstrator will give a customer a taste of a food product,
  while explaining the details of the product. In this case, almost all
  senses are used, including the taste of the food, the smell of the
  food, seeing the packaging, hearing information about the product
  and being able to touch the food.
• Let customers use the product whenever possible. If you are
  allowed, offer the products and encourage the customer to touch or
  inspect them. This involves the customer much more, and becomes
  more of an exciting experience, rather than having to just listen to
  you describe the product.
     Certificate II in Retail Operations

• Provide Accurate Information
       – Customers expect that every single piece of information that
         you offer is factual, accurate, honest and reliable.
       – In fact, customers are protected by legislation against incorrect
         and misleading information.
       – Customers that have received accurate, honest and reliable
         information will have a good impression of you and the store,
         and this impression is desirable.
       – Make sure your knowledge is correct. Before passing on
         information to customers, validate your information - make sure
         it is right. If you do not know answers to questions from
         customers, be honest, let them know, and then find the
         information for them.
      Certificate II in Retail Operations

     • Indicate which statement is a feature or which is a benefit.
     • ♦      ‘This particular television set has built-in surround sound'.
              Feature / Benefit
     • ♦      ‘The replacement globes for this lamp are available at most
              Feature / Benefit
     • ♦      ‘This mobile phone has a colour screen'.
              Feature / Benefit
     • ♦      'Cartridges for this printer can be filled by hand, which will
       save you money'.
              Feature / Benefit
     • ♦      'Cordless phones allow you to move around the house while
              Feature / Benefit
          Certificate II in Retail Operations

• Section Summary
•   Developing and acquiring specialised product knowledge is an ongoing
    process. New products may come on the market, you may change
    departments or stores, customer needs will change and all this requires
    you, as a professional retailer, to continually develop your knowledge.
•   This section has given you the details on how to research information for
    gathering product knowledge, and how to maintain a high level of this
    product knowledge.
          Certificate II in Retail Operations
•   The following questions are yes and no questions.
•   If you cannot answer yes to each question it is suggested you review the
    material again.
•   Do you recall a few tips to use when effectively imparting information to a
•   Can you remember how questioning can help assess in how to best present
    products to the customer?
•   Do you recall some of the types of questions to help fine tune the product
•   Do you understand how to create a buying environment by:
•   Clearly communicating product features and benefits?
•   Involving the customer?
•   Giving accurate advise?
•   Can you explain a few examples of applying these suggestions with a
    Certificate II in Retail Operations

   • Choose your favorite store. Describe the products the store has on
     offer. Now, break down these products into departments, then
     sections, and finally, units
   • How can you gather indirect information while doing product
   • Why is important to know what kind of services your store has to
   • What are the two main ways you teach others what you know about
          Certificate II in Retail Operations

         • Which is considered jargon? (circle A or B)
         • This phone has a large LCD.
         • This phone has a large screen that is easy to read.
         • This oven has a 'Paralytic' cleaning function'.
         • This oven is actually self-cleaning'.
         • You can store 132 different fax numbers in this machine'.
         • This facsimile machine contains 132 programmable stations '.
•   Give an example of a purchase influenced by logic, and another influenced
    by emotion.
•   What does 'Creating a Buying Environment' mean?
•   Why is it more important to sell the benefits than the features of a product?
•   How many senses should you encourage a customer to use when
    evaluating a product? What are they?