Online training… one year later

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Plus and minus of online trainings for retail sector

Dear readers, for those of you who read our column assiduously, we come back exactly after a year to analyze again the plus and minus of online training.

We want to do it again because in the last year we have had several requests in this area, so we think it is interesting from a retail point of view to analyze what happens in training, especially for professionals who will then go to work in the store.

The training activities in retail are linked to the need to have a staff increasingly prepared and increasingly competitive from the point of view of selling skills, store management, and also in store marketing.

Since the pandemic period began, we have seen a proliferation of online training courses, synchronous or asynchronous, implemented by the most disparate training institutions.

training activities in retail

We at XT, already since 2019, have created the Retail School, an online Academy that allows students to take a course in asynchronous mode. What drove us was the undeniable set of advantages related to online courses:


Online learning gives teachers an efficient way to teach students.
Online learning has a set of tools such as videos, PDFs, and podcasts, which teachers can use as part of their lesson plans

Accessibility of time and place

Students can attend classes from anywhere. This has allowed us to reach a wider network of people interested in training. Additionally, online lessons can be recorded, archived and shared. This allows students to access the learning material at a time at their leisure.


Online training is much cheaper than courses in attendance, especially for companies that need to train large numbers of employees.

Improvement of student attendance 

Since online lessons can be conducted from home or from a location of your choice, there is less chance of missing lessons.
The online learning system, with its range of options and resources, can be customized in many ways. It is the best way to create a perfect learning environment that suits every student’s needs.

To date, in which we at XT, thanks to the Retail School, have already accumulated three years of experience in online teaching, we must point out that there are some objective disadvantages in this method of delivering courses, namely the concentration on the screen for long periods of time, which leads to distraction. This is one of the reasons why our online courses have been designed to be interactive and interspersed with tests and games, so as to keep the attention of all participants high.

Another very common problem is Internet connectivity.

We have all had experience, thanks to the proliferation of online meetings, of connection difficulties, the classics “are you there? Can you hear me?” which have now become part of the sketches of various comedians.

In general, technology sometimes does not correctly support our need for connection, especially in the case of training in synchronous mode that is when the teacher is connected live together with the course participants.

However, the greatest criticality that we have encountered is that of the human relationship. That relationship which, as in our other articles we have always emphasized to be the salvation of the physical store, is also important in training.

Our courses in presence are not only training moments in which the teacher speaks and the participants listen, but they are real moments of comparison and sharing, not only between those who take the course and those who are there to learn, but also among the various participants.

As teachers, in presence and also online in synchronous mode, we always try to create group dynamics to compare the experiences of each participant.

This is obviously not possible with training in asynchronous mode, but also in this case we propose to our customers to always combine the training of the Retail School with a part of online or in presence meetings, to deepen doubts or issues, but above all to create that relationship between the participants and the teacher that can only be established with direct contact.

This is obviously not possible with the training in asynchronous mode, but also in this case we propose to our customers to always accompany the training of the Retail School, a part of online meetings or in presence, to deepen doubts or issues, but above all to create that relationship between the participants and the teacher that can only be established with a direct contact and in presence.

We wanted to share these observations with Matteo Belli, Training Director of Start Hub Consulting in Bologna

Matteo Belli, Training Director of Start Hub Consulting

What are the pros of asynchronous and synchronous training?
I’ll answer you with what are the most “immediate” aspects, in the sense that asynchronous training has the advantage of breaking down space and time. By having access to a device and at any time, anyone can access the training: during a work break, during working hours, at the weekend… because it is not synchronized with the times of the teacher and other learners.Another undeniable advantage is that you can stop the lesson at any time, so the participants can concentrate, go back and focus well on the contents they want to deepen more effectively.I cannot hide the fact that there are inevitably some cons, that is, there is less chance of interacting with the teacher and with the class group which is a positive aspect of training in synchronous mode. The latter, in fact, has the advantage of interaction. Participants can ask questions, you can contextualize the training, you can calibrate the training according to the learning need and the actual needs that the teacher can solve together with the class group.

What are your customers’ requests regarding online training?

The main requests from our customers are first of all having an easily usable platform available, not surprisingly ask us the more mainstream ones, the fundamental thing, however, is traceability. As we work a lot with funding training, in order for companies to be able to access it for the synchronous online mode, they need to have platforms that track the training.
The second thing our customers ask of us is that the training be truly interactive and that it comes as close as possible to the training in presence. To follow up on this request, we offer teachers who are able to replicate an online classroom completely identical to a classroom in the presence, or with the possibility of interacting anyway.  In fact, we lock the maximum number of participants to 12, because beyond that it would be extremely difficult for the participants to intervene and for the teachers to give the right attention to specific questions or requests.
I would also like to focus on the topic of the duration of the training: while for the training in presence we were required days of 8 hours, with online training at most you get to half-day courses. Over time and with the arrival of the pandemic, however, we have calibrated the training by managing the breaks and organizing the training based also on the attention of the participants; in conclusion then, we calibrated ourselves on training courses of 3/4 hours.

We have gone through a period in which online training seemed to be the only possibility to update, how has the situation changed today?

Since 2022 we have witnessed a sort of return to the past, obviously not in a total way, but we have seen that from January to today 40% of the training we have provided has been in presence. A nice return to the pre-pandemic period, since during the pandemic only 5% of courses were held in presence. 40% for me is a large percentage, in the sense that we have found that where possible, that is when the participants belong to the same geographical area, the training was requested in presence. It is in fact undeniable that the same entrepreneurs and companies that contact us to carry out the training, are much more inclined to carry out the training in presence.

Obviously, from the economic point of view, training in presence is excluded when the company has several locations and when the training is aimed at people from distant geographical areas, and not only for the simple economic aspect but also for the organization and logistics of travel.

We thank Matteo for his speech which confirms what we also find in general with the participants in different types of courses.

We also asked Andrea Iovenitti, Retail Manager of King Sport & Style -our partner for some years- about the training of their staff

Your company has been training for many years, what convinced you to choose the online training method?
The rapid geographical development of our company with the consequent need to involve more staff resources in training and the need to have a unique content base for all staff from which to develop specific training based on the level of experience and preparation.

What are the pros of asynchronous training?
To involve a large number of resources remotely in a short time. Uniqueness of the contents and interactivity with the assessment test on the subject.

Plus and minus of online trainings for retail sector

We have gone through a period in which online training seemed to be the only possibility to update, how has the situation changed today?
In my opinion the most effective formula is a mix between the theoretical part online and the practical part in the presence so as to ensure the emotional involvement of the resources.

As teachers we have had experience in professional schools in the much-mentioned DAD (distance learning) , with all the difficulty of interacting with adolescent boys in preparing for the world of work, we have created online training courses that still keep us busy and we had to find new training techniques to create engagement, interest and stimulate users.

In recent years business training has become a must, for various reasons:

– Need to have more and more qualified staff in stores, both from the managerial point of view but especially as sellers
– Greater ability to access funding for the training of its employees
 Staff loyalty – who must feel gratified by the constant growth not only linked to the company they work for, but also personal.

training activities in retail

We focus on the importance of this last point since we too, like all operators in this sector, are suffering from the difficulty of finding staff for the points of sale. Our advice for everyone is therefore not to neglect the training aspect, which is a significant plus, in addition to the reasons already seen, to allow for a reduction in the turnover of its employees.

Simona Fiore XT Retail srl

by AN shopfitting magazine no.170 ©