JR Cigar is one of the largest cigar retailers in the United States selling high end, premium cigars like Montecristo, Davidoff and Cohiba throughout their extensive network of exclusive stores across the US.
With thousands of products on offer, a continual flow of new product releases, store openings and an extremely savvy customer base, JR deployed Ed to drive their product and retail competency training.
We sat down with a few of their key staff to look at how Ed has helped keep them ahead of their competitors and continue to drive differentiation and performance in-store.
Ed: First of all why did you choose Ed? How did it compare to other solutions?
Christopher Walsh (VP Information Services): We looked at a number of solutions and even trailed another before we discovered Ed. We knew mobility needed to be a large part of any offering we selected and we were very disappointed with the more traditional solutions. Whilst many claimed to be responsive the reality was their user experience on a mobile device was really poor. We didn’t want our users pinching and zooming their way through lessons, and there was certainly no provision for micro-learning.
In addition, authoring solutions seemed slow and cumbersome.
When we heard about Ed we were instantly impressed. Authoring is enormously simplified and its mobile approach really resonated with us with a large user base who are rarely in front of a PC.
Ed: So it is the mobile-first approach you find most compelling about the platform?
CW: That and the micro-learning aspect, yes. Retail has so many unique challenges but a large one is the time-poor nature of the staff. Traditional approaches using the desktop and longer learning sessions resulted in poor engagement and completion rates. Its just not practical.
With Ed on mobile, our staff have training that is easily accessible and they know it is only going to take minutes to complete.
Ed: Did you have prior experience with micro learning?
CW: We didn’t, but we didn’t find it challenging. One of our training designers was able to use the Ed authoring tool quite quickly. It was more about a change in mind-set – focusing on giving our staff three high quality, short lessons a week in short bursts rather than larger singular pieces.
The template authoring made this simple and to have staff reinforcing their learning by playing simple games also produced by the tool is really incredible and innovative.
Ed ensures product and sales competencies are top of mind as JR rolls out its modern store and lounge concepts throughout the US.
Ed: Rob, what was key for you?
Rob Maneson (VP Retail): I agree with Chris, it is perfect for our retail staff. It’s accessible, the user experience is consistent and easy to understand. The agility is also a large factor for me.
We open new stores rapidly, we recently acquired two stores in Manhattan and have just opened a new store in Dallas. We anticipate opening several more this year. We need a training solution that will keep up with this pace.
Ed: And I imagine product knowledge is also key?
RM: Our customers expect premium service and superior product knowledge. They are often connoisseurs of the category, very well read and close to the brands themselves. So when they ask one of our staff a question, they really need to know more than them.
This is where Ed is key for me.
Using the higher frequency learning, key selling messages and product facts are always top of mind with our associates, so when a customer asks a question they are able to give the answer on the spot. We rely on this to keep our customers coming back to JR.
As JR opens new locations, Ed provides a valuable resource for on-boarding, product and competency training.
Ed: How are the results?
CW: Fantastic. The team at Ed did inform us to expect higher engagement rates but we are seeing lessons with 80% completion, not something we have seen before. The mobile nature of the product combined with micro learning is the main driver but also the nice gamification and prizing that has been deployed. We constantly hear how much the staff look forward to completing their learning, earning stars and being rewarded for it.
Ed: And I understand Ed is going to integrated further into the business?
CW: Yes, we now plan to introduce to our call centre teams. We see real application in being able to provide mobile learning to this group
Again, like retail they have little time but an important need for product training and sharing best practice. Ed should be well suited to this. We can also see an application in our leadership group so yes, there are some large plans to further extend it through the business.
Christopher Walsh, VP Information Services
Rob Maneson, VP Retail