Anyone who’s ever been thrown on cash register duty with little or no training knows it could benefit from quick yet thorough, standardized instruction — ringing up everything using the “sundries” button is not going to get you through in the long haul.
Recognizing this, Spartan Stores, a grocery wholesaler and retailer that supplies and runs 90 grocery stores throughout Michigan, implemented a learning management system (LMS) about four years ago.
Randy Elders, manager of performance support and career management, said Spartan Stores decided to implement an LMS to address the issue.
“Basically, the realization that we have disparate locations geographically across the state, and we have a lean team to administer and help delivery training — the function of those two demanded an LMS,” Elders said. “We needed something that we could deliver to each store, maintaining some level of control without tying it to a person to go deliver it.”
Spartan’s e-learning system was engineered with this in mind. In all its stores, the company installed at least one PC dedicated to e-learning. From that machine, employees are able to Web link to training designed and administered by LearnShare that is branded as Spartan Stores.
“Employees think that they’re still in what we call ‘The Neighborhood,’ our intranet, but actually they’re reaching out across the Net,” Elders said.
From there, Spartan Stores uses its LMS for a range of different training purposes. The first and most obvious is in orienting new hires, giving them the history of the company, its values, strategic direction and approach to customer service.
The second is job-specific training, which is useful in positions that see a high turnover rate such as cashiers. Spartan’s LMS is particularly integrated at this point.
“We’ve created a program that simulates the cash register,” Elders said. “So, they have a keyboard that’s like the cash register keyboard going through a program that’s delivered from the LMS. The user goes through and learns how to cashier, how to use the register and the different functions for different types of products.”
This also standardizes the training process at the register, which is important to Spartan Stores.
“You can imagine if everyone trains a little differently, and everybody has their own tricks or techniques, then every store has cashiers that are operating differently,” Elders said. “The LMS gets everybody the same experience, learning the same way and shrinks the time down.”
Spartan Stores administers an LMS for bagger training, as well. Elders said he realizes using a sophisticated e-learning module for something seemingly as easy as putting items in a bag might seem a bit strange, but it’s still necessary.
“It seems like a simple thing, but if you’ve ever come home with groceries, and your bread is on the bottom and crushed, and your eggs are cracked, then you’re ticked off at the store,” Elders said. “So, it is important to us and to our customers.”
A third way Spartan Stores uses its LMS platform is in compliance-oriented training.
“The system tracks completion of the course and testing automatically because each individual has to log in with his or her own ID,” Elders said. “That gives us our training records for specific safety programs or food safety compliance.”
Reaction from Spartan Stores’ staff to the LMS has been positive, Elders said, particularly in cashier training.
“It used to take them hours and hours or days and days and tied up another resource,” Elders said. “Now, employees can sit down at their own pace, and it frees up the instructor.”
On the company’s administrative side, Elders said managers are pleased with the LMS because it significantly reduces compliance training paperwork.
“All the paper shuffling of trying to keep records of who’s taken the training and who still needs it and how do we prove that — when it’s automatically logged, you deliver it to the person,” Elders said. “It’s in their development plan, they can see who’s finished it and who hasn’t and send out appropriate reminders, and then the record is there permanently.”
– Daniel Margolis, firstname.lastname@example.org
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