E-learning essential in retail

As employee training and development becomes increasingly important to business owners, they still face the challenge of finding an effective training solution that is both affordable and convenient.

Continuous training for employees is one of the most important long-term investments that a company can make because it boosts employee morale by promoting personal development. When employees are well informed, the organisation is able to stay one step ahead of the competition, resulting in increased production and revenue.

The retail industry presents a difficult training environment for a number of reasons, the first being a lack of dedicated space and time for training during working hours. Employees often find themselves working shifts, which makes it almost impossible for everyone to be together at one time for training, especially when they are spread across several geographic locations.

The nature of retail means that clients expect service at all times – the shop can’t just close for training. In order to build brand identity, companies require uniform sales service standards and training in complaint resolution, sales techniques and a host of other areas.

To remain competitive, retailers have to continuously change and improve. This means that new products are added frequently, which in turn leads to additional training requirements. Co-ordination with lecturers and employees needs to take place before training dates can be allocated and, in the interim, employees possess limited knowledge of the products they are selling.

Once training has been scheduled, employees require time away from work in order to travel to the chosen destination, complete the training and then travel back again.

Consumers are looking for more than just a product when they step into a retail outlet – they are looking for a customer experience. In order to facilitate that experience, employees need to be transformed into passionate service heroes who recognise the significance thereof and know how to master it – this can only materialise through continuous training. Training is a vital component of any successful organisation, and the more engaging you make your content, the more likely you are to see dramatic results from your employees.

E-learning has been around since the 1960s and is said to have started at the University of Illinois, where students would access course resources while listening to recorded lectures. It is designed to be simple and easy to understand, while also engaging and specifically structured to suit the target audience.

E-learning solutions are highly customisable, and supporting technology is developing at such a fast pace that there’s almost no limit to its scope and possibility.

E-learning offers the retail industry a time and cost-effective way for cross-branch training, without losing time on the sales floor. Training can be almost instantly available to learners, and can take place outside of regular working hours, diminishing the risk of reduced productivity. Key negotiation and sales skills can be fine-tuned through this method of learning – by incorporating quizzes, games and video to enhance the absorption of knowledge, as well as exposing employees to role-plays which depict a variety of potential client interactions.

“The content in our learning programmes is delivered in smaller units, making the information less intimidating and easier for the learner to digest,” says Tanya Daniels Senior Learning Specialist at The Training Room Online. “No two learners are the same, therefore they are unlikely to absorb and process information identically.

“E-learning is intended to remove the focus from the trainer and transfer it onto the student, who is able to assess his or her own development as they progress through the programme. Question types, time limits, pass marks and the type of assessment used, can be tailored to each unique situation.”

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