3 days. Hundreds of retailers. Over 3000 delegates – that’s what was on the menu for the Capability Group & Axonify team at the Retail Live. As the largest conference Capability Group has ever exhibited Axonify at, we were cautiously optimistic that “biggest” would translate into best. We weren’t too far from the truth.

Over the course of the 3 days we met and spoke with a host of interesting retailers each with their own unique set of processes and struggles. While we did attend the conference to raise brand awareness and spark sales opportunities, we were also there to learn. Here are the key takeaways from the CGL team after 3 days of working the Axonify booth down under:

  • Retailers are trying to reinvent themselves
    • Online competition, tight margins, information asymmetry. These are a few of the major hurdles to success in the modern retailer’s world. Several of the APAC market’s leading retailers are losing money, customer loyalty, brand power. The big names in retail need to make some fundamental changes to the way they do things – and they need to act swiftly.
  • You’ve got great content, but your employees don’t care
    • We spoke to a host of delegates who had invested money and time into developing new training content for their guys and girls to sink their teeth into. Feedback from retailers told us that despite their efforts to cast out fresh content, employees weren’t biting. Length of training modules, lack of engagement mechanisms and information overload were all cited as potential reasons for the lack of uptick in employee’s training.
    • But as Axonifam members know, people are busy – including retail staff. There’s a time, interest and attention shortage among a large percentage of today’s workforce. Rather than sulk about it, it’s the retailers job to cater to these realities so they can stay on top of their games.
  • Retailers know more about customers and products than they do about their people
    • Studies, whitepapers, online surveys. Modern retailers have countless resources to learn more about both their customers and the quality of their products. But how much do they know about the people they’re paying to serve these customers and items they’re buying? According to the retail leaders we spoke to, not a whole lot. Given that employees are the greatest resource they have in terms of improving the quality of a customer’s experience, they need to make it a priority to focus on their people. The front-line retail staff member is every retailer’s greatest weapon – it’s time they learn how to use it.

Retail Theater

What are the habits and preferences of the modern retail shopper? How can retailers best prepare their front-line staff to make their shopping experience the best in can be? These were a couple of the questions Axonify Co-Founder Christine Tutssel tackled during her bite sized presentation on the Retail Live Theatre stage. There was lots to cover, but based on the buzz following Christine’s talk, a few “key learning points” seem to stick with the audience:

  • Bigger doesn’t always mean better
    • “Can you remember what you had for lunch last Thursday” Christine asked an audience that responded with blank stares. She followed up to make the point that the only way you’re going to be able to remember that information is if there’s some sort of pattern behind it. If structure is absent, so is learning. Getting retail employees to learn new concepts and master subject knowledge is a marathon, not a sprint. Breaking information into digestible chunks goes a long way to ensure employees are doing more learning than they are forgetting.
  • What your employees want
    • According to stacks of research, front line retail employees want their learning to be a non-disruptive, regular occurrence that’s fun to do and relevant to their job. Christine walked the audience through why delivering a solution that meets these needs is so crucial and how it’s something that’s very attainable. Front line employee knowledge does so much to drive retailer’s business objectives and it’s important they understand the tightknit relationship they share.
  • Briscoes Q&A
    • To end the show, Christine was joined by Aston Moss – GM of HR or Briscoes Group, and Axonify’s newest client. The pair chatted about Briscoes experience on the platform 3 months in, covering problems that they faced, rationale for replacing an LMS with Axonify and of course how they are going with Axonify just 3 months into rollout.
    • Aston had a tonne of great feedback, but his perception of what Axonify is doing for his business was summed up nicely in a statement he made to close the show. “Uber knows where you are, Netflix knows what you watch, Axonify knows what you need to learn and how well you know it”.

Round Table Discussion

In a slightly more intimate environment, this part of Retail Live again featured Christine and Aston as they were joined by 12 other retailers for a proper discussion. They drove the conversation around how retail organisations can benefit from leveraging tools like micro learning and gamification to drive knowledge retention and capability in their employees. Each delegate came with their own set of issues but found common ground on:

  • Too many systems
    • Everyone at the table had a differing LMS, CRM, Comms platform – the one thing they did share was the opinion that they had far more than what was necessary. Integration is key and having a platform that can effectively communicate with existing systems – eliminating the need to hop back and forth between tools – takes a boatload of stress off the retailer and it’s employees.
  • Onboarding isn’t cheap
    • Most retailers that sat at the table conducted most or all of their onboarding through face to face learning. This strategy is accompanied by a host of issues – the biggest of which is cost. Not only does implementing a blended learning solution with online components engage the employee and lead to knowledge transfer, but it can also slash boarding costs as well as time to capability.
  • Get to know your people
    • Again the issue resurfaced around lack of familiarity with own staff needs. Retailers seem to know everything about what their customer wants and their own products – so much so that it’s overshadowing an equally important asset: their people. Big retailers are bleeding out slowly and unintentionally ignoring their best chance at a full recovery. Christine and Aston stressed the importance of focusing on your people. Because they (and what they know) make all the difference for a customer’s experience.