QUINCY, Ill. -- Niemann Foods here is preparing to expand its computer-based training curriculum following a four-store test that focused on scan speed and accuracy and other front-end tasks.
The 23-store chain analyzed point-of-sale data to compare performance levels of traditionally trained staff and those trained on a multimedia interactive computer. Overall, the test group outperformed the control group in several areas, and committed half as many cash-short-and-over errors, for example.
Louie Frame, director of human resources, told SN that Niemann will likely add training modules for deli and bakery operations as well as Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines in the coming six months.
He said the computer-based training test tracked activity among cashiers in the Champaign-Urbana, Ill., market in a number of areas including:
· Cash overs and shorts: Cashiers trained on computers averaged errors of $287 compared with traditionally trained staff, whose average error was $651.
· Scanning speed: The items-per-minute scan rates of computer-trained cashiers exceeded the other group's speed by 10.66%.
· Scan rate: CBT cashiers relied on manual key entry less frequently and scanned 88.1% of items on average, compared with control group cashiers, who scanned 86.1% of items.
· Staff retention: Turnover among cashiers trained on computers was 12% less than among those receiving conventional instruction.
Dean Knutsen, a senior instructor at Supervalu University, the retailer training program developed by Supervalu, Minneapolis, said the difference in scan rates for CBT and traditionally trained staff may not be dramatic, but it does underscore the effectiveness of computer training.
"It demonstrates that the CBT group had a better understanding of how they are supposed to perform their jobs," he said. "Cashiers are more confident and demonstrate a higher level of understanding of policy and procedure."
Supervalu worked closely with Niemann Foods, Scott's Food Stores, Fort Wayne, Ind., and other retailers it services to document performance levels using a CBT program from Payback Systems, Morristown, N.J.
Scott's Food Stores, a 17-store chain, also tested the system and was able to trim supervision time for new employees.
"They used to have a seasoned cashier 'shadow' a cashier trainee for three days and after [CBT] was complete, they only shadow for one day," Knutsen said.
Chris Irmscher, human resources director at Scott's, said the system is in one store today but the chain intends to expand the training program to all stores eventually.
He said Scott's testing yielded results similar to Niemann's in that computer-trained staff scanned faster and had fewer over-and-short errors than conventionally trained new hires.
The chain made performance comparisons with the help of a cashier monitoring tool from Trax Software, Centerville, Ohio, Irmscher said. The exception-based system analyzes point-of-sale data and generates individual cashier performance reports.
Niemann's Frame said his company is looking to expand the training to new markets including Quincy and Springfield, Ill. He said the most compelling test result was the reduction in cash-over-and-short errors as well as the increase in scanning speed.
"It's nice to see we get better productivity from new associates coming on board," he said. "The staff are better prepared. Even when it gets real busy, a new cashier is confident."