e-Learning for Retail

The retail sector is fast-paced – product ranges change constantly, promotional campaigns need refreshing, new staff need onboarding and training etc etc.

Add to this an environment where cost savings are always demanded – regardless of the economic climate – how to you ensure that staff learning and development does not suffer? This is where e-learning for retail can help you on multiple counts.

Training online with e-learning for retail companies

Online training for the retail sector is ideal, because it allows sales, management, logistics, production or support staff to all be trained with minimal disruption to their daily workload. As new policies or legislation come in, retail e-learning can enable this new knowledge to be gained during or outside working hours on a work or home computer – or even on tablets or mobile phones.

1. There is no need for trips away, which are expensive in terms of time, money and opportunity cost.

2. There is no need to engage trainers for face to face group sessions, which can be expensive and awkward to organise for multiple staff.

Take point 2. When you are paying for an expensive trainer, plus the hassle of an on-site visit or even more so – a trip away – you will naturally want to get as many relevant staff there as possible to maximise the training per hour spent on that trainer. You will naturally also want to cram in as much information gathering as possible during that session so that you dont need to do all this so frequently.

The end result of this is that you have maximum disruption to your retail operation, while not letting people learn in the most effective manner, which is in short sharp chunks that give learners the chance to digest and ideally, to act on what they have just learned as quickly as possible.

An example of online training done well in this respect is WillowDNA’s retail e-learning for PepsiCo Finance University which consisted of short, highly focused modules. The project replaced intensive, face to face workshops (and all the associated costs, logistics and staff disruption) and allowed PepsiCo to deliver training that reflected local challenges, case studies and market / environmental factors.

The success of that European project led to it being rolled out in the US and China.

Long-Term Cost Savings

What happens when staff leave and all that expensive training leaves with them and you are left with the need to train their replacement? With e-learning, once you have paid for the content and its mode of delivery, it is there for current and new staff to use – usually with very little additional cost per extra user.

It is a fact of life that the retail sector has a higher staff turnover than many others, so by integrating e-learning as a key part of your staff induction and training process, you can hire without this being such a concern.

Some skills, such as sales and customer service techniques, can be enhanced with quick and low-cost online courses offered from the likes of Virtual College and e-Learning Centre. Such training can be better than traditional, classroom instruction where the emphasis on dveloping knowledge, such as an understanding of consumer rights legislation, because staff can learn at a time and in an environment that suits them, and without distraction from their peers.

Most of the world’s largest companies now use e-learning as a key aspect of their staff training and development processes. Some will have in-house teams that can work with the latest learning technologies and create content to work on these platforms. However, many find it faster and more cost effective to engage the services of specialist e-learning companies.

Kineo in the UK have developed retail e-learning for the likes of Halfords, Vodafone, Samsung, McDonalds and Rolls Royce. As well as working with leading open source learning platforms, such as Totara LMS, they are experts in creating engaging e-learning content.

Retail giant Tesco have long been adopters of online training, and you can see a case study of their work with Cross Knowledge here.

You can see an example here of how fashion Spanish multinational retail giant Inditex (behind well known brands such as Zara, Pull and Bear, Oysho and more) used a new online learning platform by UK and US company Webanywhere to deliver ‘Just in Time’ and ‘On the Go’ learning. With social sharing and commenting elements, they were able to make training fast, engaging and practical, while also bringing about considerable cost savings.

If you are involved in the delivery of retail staff training and are looking to deliver one or more of cost savings, improved effectiveness, efficiency or speed of implementation, you may well want to look at introducing e-learning if you haven’t already.