“The new Bachelor in Retail Management degree specifically addresses the multichannel commerce requirements,“ says Wilfried Malcher, Managing Director of the German Retail Association HDE.
A good education is the foundation for a successful career in retail. Just like in other industry sectors, the options are becoming more varied. The career entry can be both managed via on-the-job training or apprenticeships and retail-oriented university studies. One thing to remember even after a successful career start is that only those who continue to educate themselves and remain up-to-date will be successful – especially due to the various changes in retail.
The percentage of graduates in retail has continued to increase for several years. This is due to the increasing complexity of processes thanks to the interconnection of channels in multichannel retailing. Employees need to manage job requirements that are ever changing and becoming more and more demanding. New products require new product knowledge; business process modernization requires business know-how; the penetration of retail with new technology calls for IT competence, while customer orientation necessitates sales competency.
Sales assistant and retail merchant are the most popular types of training
Even though retailers offer training in a wide variety of professions, according to the HDE, the most important job trainings in retail are still sales assistant in retail (currently approximately 66,000 apprentices) and retail merchant (currently approximately 48,000 apprentices). Almost three-quarters of all trainees in retail train for one of these two professions, which prepare them for the varied tasks and managerial functions.
During their training, students become acquainted with the fundamental areas of operation. These include sales and customer service for instance, use of inventory management systems, visual merchandising and the further development of product lines. This makes the sales assistant and retail merchant education an important prerequisite to further a career with continuing education.
Preparing employees for multichannel commerce
Even though future employees of retail companies learn the basic skills they need in their field of work, they still need more specialized knowledge to face the new challenges of multichannel commerce. At this point, a variety of training programs and continuing education options teach these skills.
Among others, these include the new ”Bachelor in Retail Management“ degree program, which will start in January 2015. “In collaboration with the DIHK (the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce), we created the new Bachelor in Retail Management degree, which specifically addresses the multichannel commerce requirements,“ says Wilfried Malcher, Managing Director of the German Retail Association HDE.
In terms of content, primarily the e-commerce skill-set and its link to brick-and-mortar retail have been significantly expanded. The new degree program is particularly geared towards retailers, who are active in both online and offline retailing and require suitable talents at the retail management level.
“The future managers study the various interfaces in multichannel commerce between the IT world, logistics including acquisition, business administration and category management,” Malcher explains. Starting in 2015, Chamber of Commerce members can conduct exams in this new degree program.
“The master’s degree program with its specific focus on retail and the combination of practical and theoretical experiences is unique in the German-speaking realm,” says Marlene Lohmann, EHI Retail Institute Foundation Board Member.
Studying to become a multichannel expert
Several new college degree options, with which retailers are able to prepare their employees for new challenges, also target the management level. The EHI Retail Institute Foundation for example initiated the development of the Executive Master of Retailing (eMA R) advanced degree, offered at the Zeppelin University, Friedrichshafen. After all, the continued academic education of management is essential for companies to keep up to date on the latest developments.
“This master’s degree program with its specific focus on retail and the combination of practical and theoretical experiences is unique in the German-speaking realm,” says Marlene Lohmann, EHI Retail Institute Foundation Board Member. Aside from fundamental and specialized knowledge in business and retail management, the degree teaches skills and knowledge of purchasing, innovation and technology management, online and multichannel retailing, retail information systems as well as marketing, consumer behavior studies and location strategy. The EHI Retail Institute Foundation is currently granting one full-tuition and two partial scholarships to eligible degree applicants starting in May 2015. Employees of EHI Retail Institute member companies can still apply until January 31, 2015 (click here to get to the EHI Retail Institute Foundation Homepage).
Event series for retailers
In 2015, the variety of continuing education options for the multichannel sector once again includes an extensive event series for retailers on “eCommerce and Multichannel Retailing” offered by the North Rhine Westphalia Trade Association. The events cover the complete scope of the topic. They address both retailers who have recently delved into online retailing and retailers already well positioned on the Internet looking for opportunities of professionalization. Event topics include among others “eCommerce in a Nutshell: Scenarios For Entering the World Wide Web“ or “What forms of advertising will be interesting in the future?“.
"Right now, retail needs employees with special knowledge in the areas of online presence, eCommerce and online marketing," according to Peter Stolpe, Director of Corporate Training for the Akademie Handel e.V. in Munich. Since last year, the Academy offers a postgraduate course in “Online Retail Management“ and prepares retail associates for the challenges in eCommerce. Find out more on this subject in our interview with Peter Stolpe.