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Beyond the Bale : February 2010
6 SELLING MORE WOOL February 2010 BEYOND THE BALE FAST FACTS l AWI is training retail staff worldwide about the beneficial properties of wool. l Informed retail staff can influence the customers' purchasing decisions. l Training retail staff to become wool 'product ambassadors' is a cost- effective way for AWI to market wool. While eye-catching and informative in-store displays, posters and swing tickets can influence a consumer 's purchasing decision, it is often the shop assistant who steers the customer towards a choice. Having retail staff who are informed about the properties of a product can often be the clincher that secures the purchase. Consequently, AWI has been working with many of its retail partners to help educate their sales staff about the natural properties and benefits of wool, so they can advise the consumer more appropriately. The retailer training takes place at two broad levels. First, there is training of shop floor staff. This focuses on the staff who actually talk to, interact with and sell products to customers. Retail store managers can also be trained, who in turn train their own staff. Second, there are the retail decision makers such as the company's buyers, merchandisers, designers and technologists. This training is focused on providing them with a 'toolkit' that both stimulates interest and builds their confidence to invest in wool product lines. AWI offices around the globe are providing information and education to retail partners so that they can take full advantage of wool's technical and aesthetic properties. AWI's general manager for the Americas Edwin Nazario says training topics can encompass all aspects of the wool supply chain, from wool growing in Australia to the processing supply chain, to the latest innovations and trends. "Training not only provides retail staff with a firm understanding of the unique fibre benefits and performance attributes of wool, it can also help the retailers create product differentiation and build a competitive advantage," Edwin says. "Sales staff working on the shop floor get to understand the superior qualities of wool garments, becoming 'product ambassadors', with the knowledge required to influence customer purchasing decisions. "The higher level product development and sourcing participants will get to understand the wool supply chain, and know the right questions to ask and Training retail staff about wool specifications required when sourcing their product lines." In October, AWI staff in the US trained 60 sales staff and managers of the giant outdoor retailer The North Face in the top three key markets of Chicago, Boston and New York. The Merino products sold are base layers, part of the company's Summit Series®. "The training aimed to educate the sales staff about the benefits of Australian Merino, while also providing information to answer customers' queries," Edwin says. "The key issues discussed were comfort, laundering, trans-seasonal use and price. Each issue was addressed, providing the sales staff with an understanding and an appropriate response to enlighten and educate their consumers. "The retail managers and sales staff became confident after attending the training, and felt they would sell lots of Merino products this season." In Japan, chain store Konaka, which has shops selling apparel across the country, recently accepted a proposal by AWI to send all their employees on a one-day educational course about wool. "More than a thousand Konaka employees attended the training organised by AWI's technical and product development team in Japan," AWI's general manager for Asia Pascal Senkoff says. "We have training programs with several other retail chains and department stores in Japan, such as apparel retailer Lacoste. We trained 300 of their shop managers and staff in October about the benefits of wool and the Woolmark assurance of quality. "It's encouraging to see staff and customers in the shop talking about wool again. This can only be good for both the wool industry and, ultimately, Australian woolgrowers." More information: www.wool.com/retailer AWI staff in Japan recently trained 300 staff of apparel retailer Lacoste about the benefits of wool.
September November 2009