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Zipline vs. Reflexis vs. Playerlync vs. Workjam vs. Bigtincan—Which Is the Best Tool for Retail Training and Operations?

Too many retail brands are still using antiquated learning methods in their retail training, leading to sales associates not retaining information. Incorrect retail training contributes to the enormous turnover rate, which is almost twice that of the general labor force. 

Retail Training, unfortunately, often takes on the “data-dump” style of learning where sales associates are made to sit at the store’s only desktop computer (usually in a lonely back room) and work through long reams of information. Not only is this style of learning scientifically proven not to work, it is also just plain boring. 

In this article, we will compare several learning tools that are often used in retail operations and will offer alternatives to the traditional “long-form” method of training. 

The boredom of long-form training

“Long-form” training is what most people think of when they consider retail training—handouts, team huddles, long discussions, briefings, a desktop PC, and all the other snoozefests that associates and managers abhor so much. 

Why do they keep using this method? Usually, it’s because HQ and the individual branches just don’t know any better. 

As we proved with two leading brands—one a global sportswear brand, and the other a multinational beauty products brand—big brands often want to do right by their sales associates’ training needs, but they just don’t know how. 

The reasons for boredom in training and learning programs are well documented. The days of the “sage on the stage” who lectures down at a class of students are long over. 

Modern training methods such as microlearning, just-in-time learning, and gamification are far better at imparting knowledge and getting people to actually absorb that knowledge.

With this in mind, let’s compare how several other retail operations tools fare in the retail training sphere. 

What is Zipline?

Retail ZiplineZipline is a suite of tools aimed at improving retail operations and retail communications. It is not so much a learning tool as it is a “decluttering” tool, helping sales associates focus on the most important tasks before them. 

Retail is renowned for its barrage of requests, demands, and messages to sales associates. Zipline offers a way to bring sanity to the madness. 

These tools include:

  • Social-style chat and collaboration between employees: Employees can like and comment just like on social media, but communications are all internal. Employees can also instantly message each other when they need something, or message a predefined group of people. 
  • Task management: Users can see messages and tasks that are relevant to them so they know what to do for the day. Store managers can assign tasks to associates. Sophisticated insights let managers see who is reading their messages and which tasks are lagging behind. 
  • Resource library: Users can find documents in a centrally stored location. An advanced search feature also lets them find things inside PDFs. Content can be tailored to roles so that users don’t have to sort through tons of irrelevant documentation to find what they need. 
  • Surveys: Zipline offers an integrated survey tool that lets associates conduct surveys in-store. District Managers can then get real-time insight into survey results, as well as insight into which stores haven’t carried out any surveys at all. 
  • Assessments: Finally, Zipline offers an easy method to track store compliance with existing policies by including an assessments feature in the tool. 

While sections of the tool such as assessments and resources can be leveraged as training features, training is not Zipline’s primary function. 

What is Reflexis Systems?

ReflexisReflexis Systems actually offers several tools to improve sales associate efficiency. None of them are primarily focused on retail training, but more on retail operations and retail communications. 

One of Reflexis’s main products is its Workforce Management Suite which includes a workforce time management tool and a scheduling tool for associates and managers. 

It also has tools for surveys, forms, checklists, and inspections. 

The one tool which could be used for retail training is Reflexis’s Q-Doc tool. The Q-Doc tool is a document management tool that stores documents in a central location. A search feature lets users find documents easily and tracking analytics show which associate has used which document, among other metrics common to content management systems. 

What is Playerlync?

PlayerlyncPlayerlync is the first workforce enablement tool that also offers a dedicated training and development platform. 

The mobile training and development platform attempts to solve many of the problems inherent in both traditional training methods, as well as training methods aimed at a mobile workforce. 

The company’s app offers just-in-time learning features so that sales reps can quickly brush up on their knowledge when the need arises.

Deskless workers can share their best practices, and these can be curated so other users can see what is working for their colleagues. 

Playerlync offers an advanced video compression service that prevents endless buffering on slow connection speeds. The user interface is intuitive and user-friendly, and users can access content offline as needed.

Finally, Playerlync provides collaboration and communication tools so that employees can send each other messages even if they are located in different stores. 

What is Workjam?

WorkjamWorkjam is a workforce enablement platform that also contains some features for the training of employees. 

It eases the load for frontline workers by offering tools for task management, crisis management, and communication tools. 

As for its training features, Workjam offers both microlearning and gamification elements to make training more engaging and to keep users interested. 

Workjam’s purpose is to digitally empower employees through communication, collaboration, and content tools. 

Like the other tools on this list, the focus is on making retail operations more efficient and providing a space for employees and managers to communicate.

What does a retail training app need to be effective?

The proliferation of digital tools and devices has exacerbated the problem of retail training. Not only are old training methods far too reminiscent of the teacher standing at the blackboard, but people also simply prefer to do things on their mobile phones or tablets now. 

Not only that, the breakneck speed of the modern world means that employees need to be given the chance to learn when they can—on the subway, waiting for a bus, or during a lull at the store. Forcing employees to go off to a dark back office like some kind of detention won’t do much to get them engaged. 

The potential liability of poor retail training techniques is mind-boggling—lost customers, lost sales, poor messaging, wasted time, confusion. For global retail brands, the potential lost revenue is staggering.

The connection between online sales and retail training for brick-and-mortar store associates

Total Online US Retail Sales in 2020 (source) $5.58 trillion
Total Online US Retail Sales in Q1 and Q2, 2021 $3.25 trillion
Percentage of retail employees who receive no training at all (source) 32% (higher than any other industry)
Profit improvement in companies who actively invest in training for employees (source) 45% higher profits than the market average. 

 

The first thing to know is that online retail sales are soaring. Even before the pandemic, retail sales were up to $5.41 trillion in the US in 2019. The trend does not seem to be slowing. Q1 and Q2 retail sales for 2021 are well above $3 trillion, indicating that they will end off higher than 2020’s figures, the year of the pandemic when lockdowns forced everyone to buy online. 

This puts brick-and-mortar stores under unique pressures. Selling at physical locations can no longer be about the product, but needs to be about the experience. The key to achieving this experience is to keep employees up to date on the store’s best practices, sales strategies, latest news, and information relevant to their jobs. 

That requires cutting-edge training. 

This simply cannot be done in a back-room once a week. Product info and store specials can change by the hour. Brands need an easier method of imparting this knowledge to employees while keeping them engaged.

This is solved by:

  • Microlearning
  • Just-in-time learning, and
  • Gamification

Microlearning is the process of providing targeted, focused content to users which can be consumed quickly, within a few minutes. A video, PowerPoint presentation, document—any of these are valid micro-content, provided they can be consumed rapidly. These digestible bits of micro-content can also be used for just-in-time learning which helps customer-facing employees prepare for interactions or learn new information when the situation calls for it.

Gamification is the process of turning the learning activity into a game by providing game-related features in the learning experience such as leaderboards, prizes, and awards for top achievers. 

In retail training, where associates are constantly on the floor and boredom can strike on slow days, microlearning and gamification features can keep them engaged, reducing voluntary turnover. 

And, when a customer does walk in, the enlightened associate can offer that customer the experience they came looking for—the smooth, seamless experience of top-quality service that, In previous years, was available only in Fifth Avenue stores. Now, it can be experienced at Target or even WalMart when the right solution is applied. 

What is Bigtincan and how does it improve retail operations?

Bigtincan’s Retail Sales Enablement platform is unique on this list in that it complements and enhances all the previously mentioned tools. Companies are free to use any of the workforce management tools above, and then to use Bigtincan Retail Sales Enablement alongside them to cover their retail training needs effectively. 

Because Bigtincan is all about the highest quality in retail training. 

Even those systems above that incorporate a small amount of training can benefit from a platform that was built from the ground up with sales enablement and training in mind.

Bigtincan is revolutionary in its detail-oriented approach to retail training, all the way down to customizing the platform’s user interface to match the branding of that particular retail brand. 

Microlearning

At the core of Bigtincan’s system is its focus on targeted and entertaining microlearning

It has been scientifically proven that microlearning works. Learners who engage with lessons 15 minutes or less in length are 41% more likely to retain the information they study. 

Far from the dungeon-style “back room” where employees should go to cram the latest document into their heads, Bigtincan’s intuitive and user-friendly app keeps learners entertained with microlearning videos of just one or two minutes long, interactive quizzes, and other short material. 

Because the system is cloud-based, any sales trainer can quickly create a video about a new sales promotion or campaign on the fly and push it out to reps for them to view immediately. 

Not only are such short bursts excellent for learning, but employees can also use that same learning material to enlighten customers standing right in front of them. The employee can pull up the short brief or video and show it to the customer. 

All of the content pushed to users appears on the app’s home feed so that associates never miss anything important.

Just-in-time learning

The second core feature of Bigtincan’s Learning Management System is its just-in-time method of delivering content. 

Just-in-time learning is learning designed to introduce topics and concepts to learners at the time they need them. Unlike traditional methods of learning, JIT learning is needs-driven as opposed to curriculum-driven. 

This can be compared to finding a video on YouTube when wanting to learn something new. The same applies to Bigtincan’s Retail Sales Enablement platform. Because of Bigtincan’s AI-driven search and content classification features, associates can find the material they need easily. They can then quickly view the document themselves, or show it to the customer on their phones. 

This all adds to the superlative experience of the brick-and-mortar store and the high quality of service that customers can come to expect when they put on their walking shoes and decide to visit a store in person. 

Just-in-time learning is especially important for new hires. Managers want to get their new associates on the floor selling as soon as possible and can’t afford the long onramp. Using JIT learning means that associates can hit the floor running and look up information anytime they need it, when they need it. 

Coupled with microlearning, onramp times are reduced dramatically because the associate will retain what they are learning. 

And Bigtincan takes it a step further: Using an intuitive interface, Bigtincan will also suggest what the next learning module should be for the user, depending on their progress and the organization’s training requirements.

By being able to have all the information they need at their fingertips, associates will also put forward a sense of professionalism to their customers. 

Gamification

It is a fact that gamification increases motivation and raises employee morale. Between leaderboards and achievement badges, employees using Bigtincan can edge each other on and cheer the winner. 

Bigtincan also provides detailed insight into user engagement and participation levels. Trainers can use this information to further gamify training by giving out physical prizes to those learners who are most engaged. 

Managers can additionally receive alerts for any employees who are not keeping up with their training. This helps the manager discover any difficulties that particular employee might be having to get through the training. For example, it might be discovered that an experienced employee has been given training materials on things they are already familiar with, thereby reducing their desire to engage with the content. A training manager can then modify that employee’s training program so they start to feel they are gaining benefit from the materials on offer. 

Branding

One of Bigtincan’s most appealing features for retailers is that it can be completely customized to match the retailer’s own branding. 

Using the app’s built-in design tools, everything from the font to the layout and background can be changed so that the app has the look and feel of your particular brand. 

Distributed approach

Managers are overworked, and exclusive training that requires a schedule and a curriculum only result in bottlenecks. Because Bigtincan was designed as a mobile-first application and works entirely from the cloud, users are free to learn on their own time, anytime, and from anywhere. 

Training content can also be sourced from anywhere, even from top-selling associates who want to share what they’re doing that works. This frees up the bottleneck, and the only thing managers must do is vet the content and then push it to their learners. 

Summary

Every tool on this list has its merits, and it’s up to you to decide which is right for your organization— but with Bigtincan in the mix, you’ll never be limited to one tool or area of focus, such as retail operations. Bigtincan functions as a standalone solution and works seamlessly alongside workforce management products to ensure sales associates get the best of all worlds. 

 

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