How Front Line Staff Can Have the Biggest Impact Upon Sales in Any Retail Business

Martin Newman
July 15, 2021
5 min read
Martin Newman
Martin Newman is a leading expert in customer centricity with over 40 years of experience. Known as "The Consumer Champion," he advises top brands, founded The Customer First Group, and offers transformative insights through his Mini MBA in Customer Centricity.

I recently conducted mystery shopping of all the leading grocers and DIY retailers in the UK for Axonify, the leading learning and development platform for front-line workers. I subsequently produced a white paper which you can download here:


Staff on the front line are arguably the most important asset in any consumer-facing business as they have the biggest and most direct influence on whether or not customers make a purchase.

Think of how far-reaching their impact is upon the commercial performance of a business:

  • They directly influence top-line sales. Their ability to sell, service, and give the right experience to customers can make the difference as to whether a customer buys and whether or not they come back in the future.
  • They also directly impact the bottom-line profitability. The more efficiently they serve customers the less likely there will be a requirement for post-purchase customer service intervention. Therefore, this drives down the cost to serve.
  • Given the influence of front-line staff on whether a customer leaves the store satisfied or not has a direct impact upon customer retention and customer lifetime value. This, in turn, is the biggest determining factor in the long-term health and sustainability of a business. If you don’t have a healthy percentage of returning visitors, you’ll always have over-spend on customer acquisition and it will also most likely lead to the need to be price-driven. That is always a race to the bottom.
  • When service and customer experience are good, average order values go up as happy customers spend more and buy more items each time they shop.
  • Customers buy more units per transaction as a result of front-line staff being more knowledgeable and doing a better job of cross-selling.
  • Customer satisfaction increases as does the frequency to buy and engage with the brand in the future. A clear driver for sales.
  • Returns reduce, as customers are sold the right product first time. This improves the bottom line again.
  • Positive word of mouth increases, and customers become fans and brand advocates thereby attracting other customers to the brand.

What’s not to like about all of the above?

What’s the problem I hear you say?

Well, we simply don’t show our front-line staff enough love. I’m not talking about pay or career prospects. That’s a conversation for another day.
What I am talking about is that we don’t trust them enough. We don’t empower them to make decisions and we don’t focus enough on learning and development and how we can quite easily equip them with the knowledge and tools to do their job to the best of their ability and to have the positive impact I’ve outlined above.

Whether that’s having knowledge of bestselling lines, new promotions, empowering them to offer discounts to close the sale, the way Home Depot do in North America. There are literally no end of opportunities to provide them with daily bite-size information and learning that can have a seismic impact upon their performance. That’s what this whitepaper is all about.

I hope you enjoy it.