Retail is one of the largest industries; according to Plunkett Research, there are 15,000 million employees in US alone contributing about 8% to the Nation’s GDP. Training needs of such a diverse workforce are many, product training being one. Product knowledge is important for sales people and customer service personnel and has a direct bearing on the sales. So, how can a large retail force be efficiently trained on a very wide range of products?
ELearning Solution for Product Knowledge Training:
The turnover of employees in retail stores is usually high, which means it may not be financially viable to organize classroom training for each and every employee who is hired. That said, you cannot ignore the need to train either. On the job training takes place but you cannot be sure of the quality of training being imparted as it depends on the proficiency of the immediate supervisor who is in charge of training the new recruit. In this context, eLearning proves to be useful for the following reasons:
- You can have a standard training module that a new hire can take along with the on the job training. So, new recruits can get firsthand experience of the latest concepts or inputs through online training.
- Another benefit of product training through eLearning is that every employee receives consistent and professional training on products, features and benefits, giving no room for misrepresentation of facts and inconsistencies in communication.
- Training can be accessed by sales people during their lean time cutting down the need to devote a prolonged and dedicated training schedule. By developing short modules, an insignificant amount of time of say, 15 to 30 minutes over a period of 1 week can be devoted to access the online modules. It is fairly doable when compared to organizing a classroom training that requires more time, resources and skilled trainers.
- It becomes easy to provide periodic updates about new products, as the products and promotions change frequently in the retail industry.
- Space is a constraint in retail sector and most of the time dedicated training space is not financially as well as practically viable. Retail staff can access training using desktops or even through mobile devices such as laptops, tablet PCs or Smartphones. Nike, the leading sports goods manufacturer has successfully used such devices to train their retail staff.
In the retail industry, the familiarity of the staff with the products is important since it is only with adequate knowledge of the products will the retail staff be able to guide customers to the right products based on their needs. Training cannot be dispensed with because of lack of space, time, or money as it would prove disadvantageous to the retailer. However, eLearning can provide options to make training a more affordable and viable option to bring employees up to speed with the retail industry demands.
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A Subject Matter Expert (SME) is an expert in an organization on a particular area or topic. To create good e-learning courses, inputs from SMEs are vital. To get the best out of your SME, you need to first understand him and know his role. The SME’s role is to help instructional designers (ID) understand the content. An SME is a knowledge hub looking for the best ways to transfer it, and we IDs are the people who lay the path for it. We generally face many challenges while dealing with SMEs such as variation in timelines (the major challenge), lots of changes in the content and few in the GUI, huge variations in visualization, etc., once the course gets developed. In order to overcome all these issues, and to get the best out of your SMEs, you need to follow a few steps. Let us see what they are.
Medical representatives face many problems while promoting their companies’ products to doctors. It’s a well-known fact that doctors are more knowledgeable about medicines than the pharmaceutical sales representatives. So, how can a representative gain as much knowledge as the doctor about the medicine? Well, e-learning is the best solution for this problem because it helps to impart highly effective training.
As instructional designers, we always aim to design courses that reach the target audience effectively. We would never want to hear our learners say that the course was boring. We put all our efforts to make the course interesting and engaging.
But, it is essential that these efforts are put in a right way. Engaging the learner doesn’t mean just including interactivities. It is much more than having a few clicks of interactivities.
In my last blog, 20 Must Know Acronyms of E-learning – Part 1, we have seen some acronyms that are used in the world of e-learning. In this blog, we will look at some more acronyms.
11. JIT (Just-in-Time): Just-in-time learning systems enable learners to access online learning resources at the point of need. Today, what will you do to find directions to a place or find out the movie that is playing in the theatre close to your home? You just go online for information. To employees, m-learning provides a similar facility to access information pertaining to their jobs at the click of a button.
Training enhances skills and abilities of employees to be aligned to changing business needs. It is well understood that assessments are vital components of e-learning courses. They are a medium to measure training outcomes. Assessments not only strengthen learning but also help evaluate the learner’s comprehension of a course.
It is well-known that assessments are a vital component of an e-learning course. Good assessments play an important role in enhancing the efficacy of the online course by helping evaluate the knowledge gained by the learner and reinforce the learning.
According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 48 million people (1 in 6 Americans) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die each year from foodborne diseases. In order to adhere to food safety regulations, one of our clients came up with a requirement for an e-learning course.
E-learning and m-learning are powerful learning methods; both are dynamic and effective ways to teach people. So then, what are the differences between and e-learning and m-learning methods?
E-learning involves a series of modules with in-depth subject-matter while m-learning involves smaller chunks of information which can be accessed anywhere, anytime. Modules are designed differently, depending on the kind of format used to learn. M-learning breaks the barriers of time and place and provides easy access to courses. E-learning also enables learners to access information anytime, anywhere through a laptop, and a stable environment is needed for the learner to take training.
As a college student, I had an opportunity to read Wings of Fire, the autobiography of the former Indian president, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. The story of the “missile man” who rose to great heights from humble beginnings is truly inspiring.
The sudden demise of this eminent scientist is a great loss to the country and has saddened millions. The life of Dr. Kalam is a testimony to the fact that determination and hard work can overcome the shackles of financial and other constraints.