Nowadays, the act of buying has drastically changed. Today, we purchase goods from supermarkets or may be through online retailing where it involves B2C (business to consumer) transactions. Retail industry has by far become a major contributor to a country’s GDP like that of the United States.
According to the retail industry outlook, an estimated two-thirds of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) comes from retail consumption. Therefore, store closings and openings are an indicator of how well the U.S. economy is recovering after the Great Recession in the late 2000’s. Hope this small statistical data is sufficient to portray the importance of a retail industry to a country’s GDP. And, most importantly, the world’s largest retailer, that is, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., has nearly 2.2 million (2013) employees working across different verticals of the organization. Now, the question that arises here is: How is it possible to increase the skills, knowledge, and competencies of employees working in retail industry? What kind of training solutions should be deployed here?
Retail industry also faces some of the biggest challenges that include tight budgets and busy calendars, large and constantly changing product lines, huge employee turnover, high costs associated with travel for trainers, less monitoring of training and other activities remotely.
Now with all these hurdles in mind, what do you think is the possible solution? Yes, I agree with you that training is required here; but how or rather which mode of training suits the needs of the learner?
So, this is where eLearning comes in. Studies by companies such as Bersin Associates have shown that eLearning and learning management systems are effective ways for training retail team members.
Let me share with you some of the benefits of implementing eLearning in a retail organization:
- Deploy consistent and high-quality training solutions across all locations of the globe:
Any retail giants such as Wal-Mart, Carrefour, Metro, and Tesco et.al have a global presence. A significant amount of time and money is consumed if either the trainer or the retail store personnel have to travel from location to location. Effective e-Learning training solutions enable the learner to take the course by simply logging from any location any time. And, since courses are broken up into smaller fragments, it becomes easy for the learner to digest the content easily. Thus, as a whole, learners have the flexibility to learn at their own pace on the basis of their convenience.
- Maintain training consistency: A major drawback of classroom training is that each class depends on the instructor’s and/or students’ personalities, energy, and attitudes. But, that is not the case with eLearning solutions. An eLearning training program maintains consistency by providing same learning materials and experience to its users.
- Enables to reinforce classroom training: Are you in a situation where you have a new product launch in a particular outlet and it requires special handling through your POS (point of sale)? If you come across such a situation, eLearning can add value by demonstrating the processes in an interactive environment that gives the learner “hands-on” experience.
National retailers such as Pep Boys, Home Depot, and McDonalds have seen measurable impacts on their stores’ bottom line as a result of implementing eLearning programs. For example, at Pep Boys within one year of introducing their eLearning program.
- Employee-retention rates exceeded target by over 300%.
- 78% of sales representatives surveyed said they received the tools they needed to be successful.
- Through improved productivity and reduced employee turnover, Pep Boy’s investment paid for itself within the first 12 months!
Thus, to summarize, an eLearning program can reap many benefits to its end user and also as a whole can increase the productivity and overall performance of any retail organization.