‘Skills on the tills’ is the new ‘scores on the doors’ for retailers.

With 50% of employees requiring reskilling and upskilling before 2025, HR and L&D teams in all industries are up against it when it comes to their skill development strategies. 

For HR and L&D teams in retail, this urgency to reskill only serves to further exacerbate the existing unique learning delivery challenges in the industry such as:

  • The need to meet the needs of widely varying and disparate workforces across offices, distribution centres and shop floors 
  • Higher than average rates of staff attrition, as well as seasonal staff demands making long term development a challenge 
  • Building the business case for learning, particularly on the shop floor where every minute is accounted for 

With all this in mind, retailers will need to move twice as fast to keep pace with the widening skills gap.

So, how can you find and sustain this pace while maintaining quantity, quality and relevance of learning programs?

Scale it up…but not for the sake of it

Many L&D teams are stretched as it is when it comes to resources, so it’s no surprise that many HR and L&D professionals are telling us that the prospect of scaling up learning delivery to meet the widening skills gap is daunting.

The good news is that there are solutions. One of them being the most talked about phenomenon of 2023: Gen AI. 

When it comes to scaling up learning, it’s not simply a question of doing more of the same. 

We’re sure you don’t need us to tell you that the best learning programs are personalised, and so sending the same learning materials to more employees isn’t a solution.

Gen AI can help you in two parts of this process. It can firstly help you identify skill gaps on a more granular, individual level rather than simply an organisational or departmental one. With this insight you can ensure personalisation goes deeper at the click of a button.

Secondly, Gen AI can harness your expertise in learning delivery alongside the data it has gathered about your skill gaps and quickly create a wide range of learning materials without you or your team having to spend an excessive amount of time on content creation. 

I’m leaving, and this time it’s personal

With retail headcounts in Britain declining at the fastest rate since 2009 long-term development has become a real challenge for L&D in retail. 

One of the top reasons given by employees that are leaving is a lack of career development, and in an increasingly skills based world of work, career development is only becoming more important. 

Typically, it’s incredibly difficult to take into account the individual career aspirations of all employees. However, with Gen AI-powered Skills Academies you have the power to gather information on not only the skill development employees need, but also what they want. 

What’s more, Gen AI can also be mobilised to gather insights on not just how much learners are covering, but also how well they are understanding it through the use of quizzes, simulations and assessments,  indicating skill areas that might need more attention.

So, with this personalisation at a level never seen before in learning the benefits are twofold:

  • Learners become more engaged and can see a long term vision for their development
  • L&D and HR teams are able to move beyond engagement percentages in their reporting, to key skill gaps in specific areas, all the way down to the individual level.

These benefits can lend themselves to overall employee satisfaction and also strategic organisational efforts around succession planning and resource management.

In an industry where high attrition rates are typical, one of the keys to staying ahead is personalised and targeted learning.

‘Just in time’ learning, not ‘just in case’ learning

Learning in the flow of work is nothing new to the world of learning, however this is something that’s not always easy to deploy in a retail environment. With employees distributed across different locations, and every minute accounted for on the shopfloor, it can be hard to find the time for learning, let alone build a business case for it.

Innovative approaches to learning here are key. Mobile accessible, microlearning modules can be a great way to give your employees the ability to learn on the go, without having to carve time out of their day to sit behind a computer, or spend large chunks of time sifting through learning content.

These types of learning have also become more dynamic recently, with new technologies such as Gen AI able to break down larger pieces of learning content into something that can bring the relevant learning to the user when they need it. 

Overall, this can boost consolidation of learning and shift away from ‘just in case’ learning to ‘just in time’ learning, a shift that will be invaluable for the retail industry in years to come.


Future of Jobs Report 2023

Retail Headcount in Britain 2023


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