How to Use Totara Learn for Retail Training

By October 2, 2019 No Comments

According to The Balance Small Business, retail is defined as “a sale of goods to end users for use and consumption by the purchaser.” Retailers can sell their products or services online, at kiosks, or in traditional brick and mortar stores; therefore, retailers can include grocery stores, department stores, pharmacies, or even service providers like video streaming services or beauty salons.

The retail industry is extremely competitive and needs to operate on scale as margins are often slim and turnover is typically painfully high. Not to mention, it can be a daunting challenge to keep every employee properly trained to provide improved behavior and skill acquisition. Most businesses often have tens or hundreds of thousands of employees to train, across many branches and even countries. Fortunately, an enterprise-level Learning Management System (LMS) like Totara Learn can provide a streamlined, centralized training solution to effectively educate and support retail training initiatives. 

Overcoming High Turnover 

One of the biggest challenges facing the retail industry is high turnover of employees. In 2018, the average turnover for all industries in the US was around 15%; in the retail industry the rate was above 60%, according to Daily Pay

Among the reasons for this high turnover that can be mitigated with a superior online retail training system like Totara include: 

  • Insufficient onboarding 
  • A lack of learning and development 
  • Poor management

The constant costs to replace and train new employees can add up quickly, impacting productivity, scalability, and the bottom line of the company. 

Investing in a flexible online training system can help retailers in a highly competitive industry keep training costs low by both making onboarding training more effective and efficient, as well as helping to retain employees with individualized learning and development programs. To do this, Totara Learn is the perfect system to adopt. 

Onboarding with Totara 

When an employee starts a new job, there’s typically a lot to learn, from company values to standard operating procedures for a specific position. Ideally, learning managers aim to get people into the system quickly and also get them into the right training automatically. The system needs to be flexible enough to account for possible differences in training depending on store location or the position for which the employee was hired. Training for a new cashier will likely require different courses or modules than training for a new warehouse worker. Conversely, there likely will also be common training aspects for all new employees. 

Using Totara’s HRImport feature, employees can quickly gain access to the system and also be separated by position type and/or store location. Within minutes of the new employee being entered into the company’s HR system, the employee also gains access to their Totara learning site. Additionally, using position and organization hierarchies, learners are placed into audiences that in turn enroll them in the correct training. The training is separated by both position and store location through the creation of training programs which lead new employees through the training path based on successful completion of all training modules. These training modules include both training that is common to all new employees and training that is specific to each employee’s location and job. 

The benefits of this type of system include: 

  • Rapid deployment of training to disparate locations but managed centrally 
  • Consistency of training across all locations 
  • Efficient and effective onboarding 
  • Ease of transition for employees moving between locations or positions 
Position Hierarchy Organization Hierarchy 

Learning and Development Plans in Totara

Once an employee starts with a retail organization, retention of those employees is often improved when the company provides ample opportunities for professional development. Through the Appraisal and 360 Evaluation features in Totara, retail employers can use the system to both identify talented employees with leadership potential and recommend either internal or external training in order for those employees to eventually progress to leadership positions within the organization. 

Additionally, Learning Plans can be set up so that either the employee can request training modules and/or the employee’s manager can suggest or even assign training to the employee. These learning plans can incorporate External evidence to show that the employee has earned external certificates or badges as well as internal certificates and badges. 

Throughout the employee’s training path (including both onboarding and professional development plans), the employee’s manager can keep track of their team’s training efforts using the extensive reporting system in Totara. 

Using Totara to support employees by continuously providing development opportunities that helps them learn more about their jobs and train for the future can keep them loyal to your organization. Supporting employees’ personal and professional development shows them that the company is interested in more than just their productivity,. This care turns into a competitive advantage in retaining employees. 


It is often true that employees quit their manager instead of their job, particularly in retail. While there are many tasks a person needs to learn in order to be a good manager, there are also many “soft-skills” that are vital. For instance, characteristics of a good manager include being collaborative, growth-oriented, and an excellent communicator, and these tasks can usually still be cultivated if latent. While aspiring managers within your organization or even managers that are hired from the outside will hopefully have these skills (among others) to some degree, they are still skills that can be trained and evaluated with proper education. 

It is entirely possible for retail companies to develop this training by themselves. However, eThink partners with content providers (such as GO1) that integrate extremely well with Totara Learn. These companies provide off-the-shelf training content that can be easily deployed to teach employees to be effective managers.  

For example, the following course can be added to the company’s Totara system through GO1 at the touch of a button. 

This course can then be added to any Learning Plan for any of the retail employees. 

Efficiently deploying training in Totara either by developing it in-house or partnering with a content provider can help develop better managers and therefore help with employee retention.  


There are many ways that eThink and Totara can provide a cost-effective investment in impactful retail training. Retail companies that demonstrate a commitment to their employees at all periods in their employment will mitigate the costs of high employee turnover and support their company’s overall bottom line.

To learn more, see how Powell’s Books, the largest independent bookstore in the world, is using Totara Learn to support their retail training operations across 5 brick and mortar stores – including Powell’s “City of Books” headquarters which spans almost 1.6 acres of retail floor space and occupies a full city block – as well as

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Interested in learning how Totara can support the training programs across your retail operation? Speak with one of our expert! Contact us to schedule time to catch up with an eThink or Totara rep to discuss your eLearning needs. Or, request an individual demonstration below.

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By October 2, 2019