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How Fuse Can Help Retailers Reap Big Rewards

Roberta Gogos
Dec 03 2021

By Roberta Gogos

If there’s one industry that’s experienced seismic disruption these past few years, it’s retail. Even before lockdown measures shut up shops, many longtime suffering high street retailers had reached the peak of their demise, only to be snapped up by a new generation of e-commerce giants that has heralded a changing of the guard in retail

Despite all this, it’s fair to say that in many instances, retail has been re-born. Many of those who have weathered the storm presented by the pandemic have emerged triumphant. In the UK, despite lockdown measures, retail sales rebounded strongly in a short space of time. According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), in December 2020, retail sales volumes increased by 0.3% when compared with November 2020, increasing by 2.7% when compared with February's pre-lockdown level.

However, in an industry re-imagined and reshaped, it’s no time to rest easy upon a job of operational resilience well done. In the eat-or-be-eaten world of Boohoo and ASOS rule, new business practices and consumer behaviours are changing week to week. McKinsey authors of Why Retail Outperformers Are Pulling Ahead hit the nail on the head when they said: 

“Retailers’ relative performance in capital markets starkly demonstrates a pandemic-driven acceleration of ongoing industry shifts. This means those that wish to keep up need to speed up.”

As many of our retail customers have demonstrated, L&D can play a pivotal role in accelerating productivity, time-to-value and profitability, even in today’s ever-changing online retail experience. Read on to hear how our retail customers have used Fuse to gain knowledge and build new skills,  capitalising on some of the new opportunities that are presenting themselves to retailers. 

How In-Flow Learning is Helping to Capitalise the Accelerated Online Retail Opportunity

To counter the move away from brick and mortar, the vast majority of retailers stepped up e-commerce efforts, which in many cases increased sales. Case in point, ONS found that total online retailing values increased by 46.1% in 2020 when compared with 2019, the highest annual growth reported since 2008.

The transition to achieving a profitable online retail experience doesn’t happen by magic, however. There is in many instances a big re-skilling effort that must be undertaken to turn shop floor sales associates into e-commerce experts. 

Our customers Joules and Seasalt are excellent examples of rapid retail reskilling that was managed expertly with use of the Fuse platform (if you want to go straight to the source and read about the hands-on examples for yourself, take a look at our case studies How Joules Used Collaborative Learning to Build Culture and Create Community, and  How Seasalt Leveraged Social Learning to Extend Comms, Community and Culture.) 

Joules and Seasalt had to undergo a massive transformation during Covid lockdown. The shift to a 100% online sales model required some upskilling, but also significant reskilling to learn the entirely new skills required for online sales to ensure employees were ready to manage online selling profitably as soon as possible. 

Like McKinsey says: there wasn’t time to hang about. With stores closed, a three-month training course to shift from tried and tested brick and mortar sales to the complexities of e-commerce operations was not going to cut it. 

By bringing in Fuse as one universal, mobile-ready platform that offered anytime, anywhere access, our retail customers were able to facilitate social and collaborative learning in the flow of work. Employees can stay on top of rapidly changing product information, learn new selling skills and even manage the company’s extended supplier audience digitally and remotely via Fuse

With in-flow learning, Fuse is meeting these retailers’ need for speed, while engaging employees every step of the way.

How In-Flow Learning is Helping to Capitalise on the e-Commerce Productivity Opportunity

In a recent FT.com article, UK retailers reap big productivity gains from shift to online, journalist Delphine Strausse says that (backed by statistics from the ONS) labour costs are dropping and output per hour is rising as businesses operate with fewer workers. 

We’re not here to say that retailers should streamline staff to boost productivity - many retailers are having great success with hybrid models based on both in-store and e-commerce based operations. 

However, it’s a good reminder that regardless of the operating model, retailers are under constant pressure to improve productivity at all times - with customer expectations growing in scope with every Amazon purchase and transaction. In this industry, sitting still is paramount to stagnation, and luckily, L&D is well-positioned to help. 

First and foremost, Fuse is helping to accelerate employee onboarding, which is a huge boost to time-to-productivity. Trying to onboard and train new employees in a fast-growth environment has always been a challenge, but with in-flow learning via Fuse, our retail customers have really gotten a handle on onboarding. 

Again, retailer Seasalt is a great example of this. With Fuse, the company shifted much of its knowledge to be available in the flow of work rather than ‘out-of-flow learning,’ which is usually formal and course-led. the onboarding process became less formal, and more an everyday part of work, moving from ‘slow and variable’ to quick and consistent. 

Onboarding was also combined with upskilling, working on employees’ digital skills in the move to a more e-commerce based selling environment. Having complete visibility of this was something Seasalt achieved with Fuse via transparent analytics, and the transparency provided by its learning and coaching environments. 

Onboarding isn’t the only opportunity that retailers can capitalise on through the use of a clever learning and knowledge platform like Fuse. There are dozens of other productivity benefits retailers and other customers are seeing, such as:

  • With state-of-the-art, AI-driven search functionality, employees can find knowledge instantly rather than having to spend hours searching for it. 
  • As supply chains continue to be tight or disrupted, retailers like Seasalt extend learning to their extended enterprise. SeaSalt rolled out Fuse to all of its +65 suppliers in May 2021, and the hub was well received, with suppliers finding it a good way of accessing key information.
  • In-flow learning is engaging employees and boosting sales. Fuse customer Avon has seen a 320% increase in aggregate sales over a six month period from beauty entrepreneurs increasing their visits to the Fuse platform from 1 to 2 visits per month to 3 to 4 visits per month. 

These are only a few of many areas where learning and knowledge platforms like Fuse are helping retailers to make the most of today’s accelerated opportunities. If you’d like to have a conversation about how in-flow learning can help your enterprise meet the need for speed, efficiency and time-to-productivity in retail, get in touch today.

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