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The right advice at the point of sale
Human Resources Excellence Award singles out REWE and tts for their innovative concept for digital product training in the supermarket
The bricks-and-mortar retail trade is facing enormous challenges. Online retailers have been growing their share of the market for years, and bricks-and-mortar formats are becoming ever more diverse – even going as far as delivering directly to customers. It is also becoming increasingly difficult to recruit and retain new staff in the food retail sector.
Mobile learning at the point of sale
REWE decided to tackle these challenges by adopting a long-term approach to enhancing the product know-how and advisory skills of staff at the point of sale. Since conventional training would be too complex, costly and – given the huge dynamics in product ranges – hardly sustainable, the Group decided to harness the potential of digitalization. Katharina Schupp and Katharina Ebel, HR experts for learning at REWE Markt GmbH, therefore opted to pursue mobile learning directly at the point of sale
“By utilizing state-of-the-art technologies, REWE is reaching out to the next generation of workers, for whom mobile end devices are part and parcel of daily life.”
Katharina Ebel, HR-Expert Digital Learning
Key to the answers
- Even as the project got underway, specific factors needed to be taken into account:
- The existing digital infrastructure in the supermarket was to be used – specifically, the tablets already in place and an interface to the learning management system at REWE.
- Various types of learning were to be addressed simultaneously.
- Learning content had to contribute directly to merchandise knowledge and customer service
Take this simple question as an example of product training – how do you know whether a pineapple is ripe? The key to the answer is integrated into a digital scavenger hunt that guides learners through the supermarket with the aid of tablets. Push notifications automatically display product information on the mobile end device, such as details of calories, contents, allergy risks, place of origin, etc. Alternatively, in learning mode a quiz is displayed with questions about key product characteristics. These push notifications are communicated via beacons hidden at various locations throughout the supermarket.The beacons are Bluetooth transmitters that emit signals to push information and questions onto mobile end devices that are within range. Initially, the beacons were arranged in a test store for the trainees and concealed in among the goods.
Make learning fun
The reactions of the REWE trainees in the first test group showed that mobile learning is fun. They appreciated the break from the norm that the know-how hunt provided. “The project really raised awareness in-house in a hugely positive way,” explains Ebel. The test run was the first crucial step in ensuring “mobile learning” is more widely accepted. By utilizing state-of-the-art technologies, REWE is reaching out to the next generation of workers, for whom mobile end devices are part and parcel of daily life. At the same time, it is also driving down costs for formal qualifications and bringing agile knowledge transfer into the supermarket. When new products are introduced into a range or new seasonal goods come in, the relevant information can be made available in the store in real time.
Award-winning learning concept
The concept and its implementation also proved to be a hit outside the company, helping REWE and tts win the coveted Human Resources Ex- cellence Award in the “Knowledge management – learning and development” category. The judges highlighted the highly innovative character of the project and the integration of the learning concept into REWE’s strategy.
P.S. A pineapple is ripe when it smells fruity and sweet at the base and the outside yields slightly when pressed.
“At the same time, it is also driving down costs for formal qualifications and bringing agile knowledge transfer into the supermarket.”
Katharina Ebel, HR-Expert Digital Learning
About the Human Resources Excellence Award
Each year, the award is presented in honor of forward-looking HR strategies. Quadriga University and the journal “Human Resources Manager” handed over the coveted award for the sixth time in November 2017.
Facts & Figures
- Over 120,000 employees, of whom 5,200 are trainees
- 3,300 supermarkets, sales of 21.2 billion euros (2017)
- The REWE Group is one of the leading retail and tourism groups in Germany and Europe.
- It has 345,000 employees, runs 15,300 stores and is active in 22 European countries.