10 reasons retail needs an authoring tool

The retail industry has always been changeable but never has it had to adapt as quickly as during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the dust settles, pressures to stay competitive and keep employees and customers safe will continue to put a strain on retail organizations and the L&D teams responsible for employees’ performance. Could an authoring tool be a simple solution to a really painful problem?
authoring tool for retail
As we dare to imagine a post-COVID world, we can’t pretend that the retail industry – or any industry for that matter! – will go back to ‘normal’. The challenges of the last couple of years have reinforced how crucial it is for retail to be able to onboard, upskill and reskill staff quickly, cheaply and at scale. This need isn’t going anywhere, which is why it’s time to challenge the use of third-party suppliers to produce elearning. It simply isn’t an efficient solution. 

More and more retail businesses are choosing to purchase authoring tools to enable them to bring their elearning in-house.

Here are ten reasons why they have the potential to be the next wave of L&D strategy in retail.

10 benefits of authoring tools for retail organizations

1. Ongoing learning is now expected

young person in a shopping trolley in an IKEA aisleFirst things first. Effective, relevant online learning is sought after and frankly, expected by modern employees. ‘In the same way that consumers expect online shopping as standard, modern employees expect online learning content as standard.

They’re doing it on the go, on their phones, and are becoming much more proactive in finding what they need.

As employees ensure they’re up to date with the latest products, processes and health and safety regulations, the demands for more accessible, ‘available-when-I-need-it’ elearning, is only going to rise further. Businesses will continue to need digital learning solutions to meet the diverse needs of their teams; having an in-house solution is more scalable, cost-effective and quicker.

Extra benefits include an ability to embed your brand and cultural expectations – when done well you have truly authentic, relevant learning experiences.

2. They help you manage learning at scale

With digital learning, a piece of content is produced once and can then be rolled out to a huge audience; super important when thousands of stores have to make changes at once. But a question that remains is how quickly does that elearningit become out of date?

If you’re already heavily using elearning as a learning tool in your organization, but are outsourcing the production of it, you’re probably finding the content you receive from a vendor has a very short shelf life (yes, pun intended).

Often, you don’t get the source files for the content either, meaning you are stuck with a swiftly outdated piece of content that took ages to create and wasn’t kind to your budget. Hmmm.

By evolving from this model to a more self-sufficient, in-house production model, your team will be much more responsive to swift business changes. You can also onboard employees faster, meet mandatory regulations more quickly and increase performance and productivity at scale.

3. You can produce what you need

Whether you need some swift customer safety training to align with new regulations or want to roll out some specific Christmas training for your seasonal staff, an authoring tool for retail extends your L&D team’s capacity to meet emerging business challenges quickly.

You will be able to meet demand for new learning content much more easily. You can also ensure that it’s on-brand and will resonate with your people. An added bonus is that by producing content in-house, you can tailor and personalize it so it targets individual needs and roles, at high scale, without paying more.

4. Authoring tools support multiple languages easily

We know many retail businesses have complex learning landscapes, many of which have to deliver learning content in multiple languages across the globe.

With the right tool, you can create one piece of content, adapt it and translate it to meet the needs of global and varied audiences. This extra step makes a huge difference to how personal and relevant – and therefore how effective – your elearning is. How much might you have to pay a vendor to do this?

To take control and reduce costs seek out tools which enable you to easily swap out elements, support multiple languages and provide personalized learning pathways at a minimum.
10 reasons why every retailer needs an authoring tool - translations

5. Extend skills for now, and the future

Futureproofing. Business-critical skills gaps. Workforce planning. Buzzwords aside, these are real problems for changeable industries such as retail; just look at how much you’ve had to adapt to survive already. Businesses need to evolve alongside the complex needs of the consumer, and the pace of change is something many struggle with.

The need for agility, responsiveness and quality customer experiences means retail teams must develop new skills to bolster sales and secure their business’ future. It can’t be a given that soft skills such as communication, interpersonal skills and sales techniques are readily available in the young, transient workforce which can be common in retail environments.

So what’s the solution? Modern elearning, produced by your in-house team. An authoring tool for retail will enable you to produce personalized or adaptive solutions which target an individual user’s role, needs and skills gaps.

Modern digital learning can respond to how an individual interacts with content and/or how they score in questions. This means you can serve up what that individual needs – be it some specific learning, a fitting exercise to help them practice, or signposting them to some useful steps to take to expand their experience.

6. It meets people’s growing demands

People learn on the fly, in the moment, on their lunch break – basically when they can or when they want to. Digital learning is always on. More to the point, it can be delivered in bite-size pieces that allow it to be used flexibly, and with the right technologies, on any device. With the average employee having just 20 mins a week for workplace learning, digital solutions let you think outside the box on how you can best help busy people develop their skills.

Those needs can be met by outsourcing your requirements to vendors, sure. But you know your employees best, and by keeping production within your L&D team you are able to produce a higher volume of relevant content, helping you to stay connected and there when your people need to learn.
10 reasons why retail needs an authoring tool - how people learn

7. Development is much, much quicker

It goes without saying, but we’re going to anyway. Owning the production of elearning within your own business means that you can deliver high-quality content much more swiftly. Some of our retail customers have seen production speed increase by as much as four times, which is a staggering impact when you consider how many hours that actually frees up.

With an authoring tool in retail, you are able to rapidly produce learning when there is a real and legitimate need for it; this ability to pivot and move quickly ensures skills gaps are met without delay and employees are able to get up to speed with new information immediately.

Already using an authoring tool for retail elearning, but curious whether it’s offering you the best value for your business? Check out our free Authoring Tool Comparison Template.

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8. You’ll get good data

With learning analytics available within most modern learning tools, digital learning solutions enable you to easily see how your learning projects are performing. Digital learning initiatives enable you to track engagement, devices used, drop-off points, user comments and lots more.

Not only does this give you handy stats to share with stakeholders, but your team can also take action to tweak, fix and really hone the learning solution to meet its targets.

10 reasons why every retailer needs an authoring tool - data and analytics

9. Saves your budget for other things

Compared to outsourcing costs of bespoke modules, in-house production will always win, especially in changeable, global industries such as retail. That’s because you’ll often need:

  • More than one version of the same content: Be it a translated version or perhaps an adapted version for different store locations. The average retailer has around 30,000 employees; meeting their complex needs undoubtedly requires a variety of unique content.
  • A huge amount of content: Keeping up with compliance, product changes and onboarding transitory staff needs a seemingly neverending supply of elearning.

For many businesses, outsourcing the production of this volume of content is just not a cost-effective solution, so they turn to authoring tools.

10. It relieves pressure on L&D

Believe it or not, often times we see our customers release pressure on L&D teams with the introduction of an elearning production tool. We know this sounds like a head-scratcher, but it draws back to some of our earlier points.

In retail environments, the volume of elearning content needed is consistently high and the onus is entirely on the L&D team to build that content. The pressure is on and the bottleneck is real.

With an authoring tool in place, L&D teams actually extend their abilities and provide opportunities for SMEs across the business to contribute (and possibly even build it if it’s easy to use). This empowerment allows you to unlock the knowledge and expertise within the business easily and at scale.

The world is your oyster, especially if your authoring tool has no limits on users or authors.

What’s your retail learning strategy?

There’s no doubt that fast paces, changable learning ecosystems, such as those in the retail industry, could benefit greatly from the introduction of an authoring tool. With the constant and ongoing evolution of learner demands and expectations, L&D departments need solutions that help them keep pace with changes, whilst still being able to produce at scale.

Ready to start comparison authoring tools? Download the authoring tool comparison template for retailers to get off on the right foot!

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