CHICAGO -- Benefits from the use of computer-based training extend beyond cutting the time needed to prepare employees for work on the "front lines" of the supermarket. Fleming Cos. has also credited CBT with improving key productivity measurements as well as boosting customer-service levels.
At Milwaukee-based Sentry Supermarkets, the introduction of CBT allowed the retailer to reduce the amount of time spent training new cashiers from 15 hours to eight hours, while still improving employee performance. Cashiers' average scan-per-minute rate increased 7.3%, from 23.0 to 24.7 scans, and cashiers' overage/shortage amount -- the amount each cashier's till differs from the correct total -- dropped from 96 cents to 35 cents per cashier per day.
Customer feedback also improved following Sentry's adoption of CBT in 1996, according to Paul Adams, director of retail education services at Fleming, Oklahoma City, which owns and operates 35 Sentry stores.
Adams spoke at the Retail Technology Training Seminar held as part of Retail Systems 1999, which took place here earlier this month and was sponsored by Retail Systems Alert Group, Newton Upper Falls, Mass.
Adams also shared data from CBT use at Fleming-owned Rainbow Food, Minneapolis. The retailer's adoption of CBT in 1997 allowed it to cut total training time by five hours per associate while increasing the proportion of on-the-job training compared with classroom training.
"On-the-job training is the best kind in retail," said Adams. Using CBT allowed Rainbow to cut classroom training time from 15 hours to seven hours, so even though the retailer doubled its valuable on-the-job training from four to eight hours, total training time still fell by five hours, from 21 hours to 16 hours per associate. (As part of the change to CBT, a two-hour orientation was compressed to one hour.)
Better-prepared, better-trained employees are also less likely to leave or be fired, according to Adams. Rainbow measured turnover before and after making CBT part of its training program, and noted that turnover went from an annualized rate of 114% to 94%.
Fleming tries to motivate retailers to purchase a complete library from its CBT vendor, Payback Training Systems, Cedar Knolls, N.J., by offering a free PC "if the retailer buys the entire package," said Adams, noting that Fleming had provided about 80 computers already in 1999.