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Pre-boarding: The secret to retail onboarding success

The first working days in retail can define an employee's journey. With only 29% feeling ready to embark on the employee journey post-onboarding, it's clear that traditional onboarding is missing the mark. Enter pre-boarding: the proactive approach to early engagement and productivity. This blog dives into what an engaging onboarding looks like, helping you transform new hires into brand heroes from day one.

Three is the magic number 

To create a successful onboarding experience, we recommend a 3-step approach to cover organizational, technical, and social elements. 

Organizational onboarding is the foundation, as it helps new hires become familiar with the company's structure, understand how their work impacts the company, and have an overview of their benefits and payroll packages. 

Technical onboarding comes next, helping employees with specific skills needed for their role, from mastering point-of-sale, order, and security systems, to ensuring they're ready to tackle practical aspects of their job.  

Social onboarding, which sometimes does not get the attention it deserves, can bring a unique sense of belonging to the workplace by turning into a community, connecting new hires with peers through mentorship programs and social activities, relieving new starters anxiety, and fostering engagement.  

Each retail sector tailors these components to its unique environment. The McKinsey report on grocery retail emphasizes the need for scalable onboarding that automates the experience while still keeping it personal, illustrating how nuanced onboarding can be and how vital it is for employees to feel integrated into their new roles and connected to the company culture from the start. 


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Earlier rather than later 

Pre-boarding is the ace up the sleeve for retailers. It's an opportunity to engage with new hires, share the brand's narrative, and demonstrate that they are welcome as part of the team. Pre-boarding is about everything happening between the candidate accepting the offer and their first day of work. This phase is critical to keep momentum and ensure that new hires remain excited about their decision to join the team. During pre-boarding, employers can lay the foundations of company culture, clarify expectations, and build relationships that will carry them through their first days and beyond. 


The benefits of having a structured pre-boarding and onboarding program is that new hires have a good foundation and platform to stand on when they start working with us, and they can feel a part of the Gina Tricot family from the beginning.

Sara Janström

Training manager at gina tricot


When new hires receive their first welcome email or swag pack, the tone is set for a lasting relationship. This proactive approach fills the void between contract signing and day one, ensuring that new team members are ready. 


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Practical pre-boarding tips 

To maximize the effectiveness of pre-boarding, consider the following:   

1 Facilitate early rapport

with digital introductions to peers and mentors using interactive communication tools. 

2 Provide pre-access

to your company's online portal, allowing new team members to immerse in the company culture and role expectations ahead of the start date. 

3 Initiate online

Health & Safety training and product knowledge sessions, ensuring compliance and familiarity with your environment. 

4 Ship a branded welcome kit

directly to new hires, setting the scene for a great first impression. 

5 Encourage proactive learning and engagement

with company-specific courses and content, such as product catalogs, on your communication platform. 

6 Utilize communication channels

for new hires to connect, fostering a sense of community even before day one. 


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Organizations with a robust onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%. By adopting such pre-boarding practices, retail companies can reinforce the new employee's commitment to the organization right from the start. 

Retail onboarding is getting a makeover. Pre-boarding is more than just prep; it's the launchpad for peak performance and better brand loyalty. For HR, that means knowing how to nurture every new hire before day 0 and after day 30, starting with pre-boarding initiatives tailored to each hire's unique aspirations.  

A great way to do it is by launching a sustained engagement plan that continues well past the first month. This could involve ongoing development opportunities, regular check-ins, and continuous reinforcement of how their contributions impact the company.




For more insights and detailed strategies on enhancing the employee experience with digital communication technology, visit

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