The retail industry is one of the most changeable of our time: pressure from online shopping, squeezed by suffering economies and a requirement for A-class customer service puts a strain on even the most competent L&D team. Could an authoring tool be a simple solution to a really painful problem?
As we roll ever closer to 2020 and begin to address yet another decade of new challenges and modern strategies, we must remind ourselves that many organizations are still deep in the world of using 3rd party suppliers (or 3rd party content) to produce their elearning. But with benefits such as scalability, speed of delivery and cost-effectiveness, more and more retail businesses are choosing to take control of the learning experience by introducing authoring tools into the fray.
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
First things first. Effective, relevant online learning is sought after and frankly, expected by modern employees. Digital or online learning is no longer a separate or special entity, it just is what we now do – including at work. The modern employee is savvy, hunting out answers to questions, and hungry to learn. They’re doing it on the go, on their phones, and are becoming much more proactive in finding that which they need.
And it doesn’t stop there. The demands for more accessible, ‘available-when-I-need-it’ elearning, which exists in the flow of work, 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 then can reach the desired audience. That’s great, but in retail how quickly does it become out of date?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Often times you don’t get the source files for the content either, meaning you are stuck with a swiftly outdated piece of content that took ages to create and wasn’t kind to your budget.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 one, 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 compliance elearning to align with a new legislation change or want to roll out some specific Christmas training for your short-term 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 helps to enhance how learning interventions and performance-supporting content reaches and engages wide audiences in relevant and meaningful ways. How much might you have to pay a vendor to do this?
To make this work, you should seek tools which enable you to easily swap out elements, support multiple languages and provide personalized learning pathways at a minimum.
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 a 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 commute – 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 by keeping this 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.
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 much time that actually frees up.
Our data shows that it takes, on average, 2 hours to build a page of elearning content. So, to produce a 15 minute learning experience you may need to invest around 40 hours. How does that compare to outsourcing it?
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.
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.
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 SME’s 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 fluctuating learning ecosystems, such as that of 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 which help them keep pace with changes, whilst still being able to produce at scale.