Revenue Per Employee:  How Indian Retail Uses RapL To Optimize The Holy Grail Of People Productivity

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Of the several retail KPIs that are gold standards to measure efficiency, revenue per employee remains numero uno in people productivity. pitchforked debates on the utility of KPI have been part of many indulgent intellectual exercises, definitely not without merit.

In the face of heterogeneous products and varying degrees of customer involvement in the purchasing process, establishing a standard measure of revenue per employee is daunting. If a segment of customers is well informed about their product choices and refuse to engage with any form of sales assist on the floor, is the employee to be blamed squarely? The jury is still out indeed.

However, till industry consensus is formed around new measurement practices, Indian retail has to rely on revenue per employee (R/E, going forward) as the metric of choice.

This was when RapL was invited to work with some retailers to solve the challenges out there.
RapL’s retail customers think about R/E as the measure of output value to the related input value of the employee.

When RapL engages with a customer, the success formula is based on – at an investment of 1% of an employee’s salary (RapL costs), can revenue / employee be increased by 10%?

RapL has worked with a bunch of retail customers, both giants and challengers, over the past 18 months. In the process of retaining all their business, there is evidence that we have uncovered. This literature is an exercise in enlisting all the different ways RapL can improve retail floor productivity.

(Disclaimer: R/E is a swathing metric influenced by many factors outside RapL’s control. Here, only factors with a direct correlation to RapL’s deployment are pointed to.)

📣 Message for the reader

Dumping documents, PPTs, and classroom sessions is a waste of your training budget. This is because folks will forget 95% of the concepts within 7 days if not reinforced.

You can’t reinforce each and every concept because of practical limitations. 

What should you do instead? Arm them with one concept at a time. And keep ’em short. A human’s attention span is 8 seconds.

RapL is your software for that.

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  • Onboarding operational excellence: Prior to RapL, the firm onboarded a distributor in 60 days. However, they weren’t confident the vendor had a complete grasp of the company’s culture, products and processes. That’s when they switched to RapL. One of the first interventions made by RapL was to reformat the onboarding content into engaging quizzes. By design, quizzes have considerably lighter cognitive load and are a breeze compared to other content formats. For high-risk subjects like product knowledge, the company transitioned to short tests that could be taken on the RapL mobile app. Both these mechanisms helped ensure distributors could finish onboarding in10 days. Compared to the earlier 60 day mark, it is a straight 6x win.

The image showcases the mandatory modules that new employees need to complete as part of their onboarding process.

  • Increasing upsell and cross-sell volumes

    This is the Amazon equivalent of ‘frequently bought together’ suggestions. The difference lies in RapL drip feeding this critical piece of information to retail employees via a mobile app every day, until they master the fundamentals of which products are frequently bought together.

    Capability development teams built short bursts of content on related products and job specific processes. This content was delivered to employees who had the RapL app on their mobiles. There was also an additional option to certify employees as “experts” in the area of recommending related products to customers. This helped managers to visualize and get insights on who was moving up the knowledge ladder quickly.

    Additional features helped visualize the aggregate knowledge of up-selling and cross-selling at zonal and national levels for large scale development interventions.

Training employees on new product features through bite sized training modules

  • Role playing difficult situations via “RapL Scenarios”

    Substantial training budgets are spent to teach employees the art of dealing with irate customers. Apart from classroom training andYouTube video recommendations, managers engage in casual walk-and-talk with floor employees to assist them with the art of soothing an exasperated customer.

    The forgotten trick was to reinforce the right behaviors through role plays and business scenarios. Talent development teams used RapL’s scenario based questions to dribble expected behaviors every day till employees mastered the needed tricks.

    For a fact, at one of India’s largest FMCG companies, employees are mandated to complete a training module on “Dealing with Irate Customers” over the RapL app before they are even eligible for their R&R (Rewards and Recognition).

A scenario based question on dealing with irate customers

The forgotten trick was to reinforce the right behaviors through role plays and business scenarios. Talent development teams used RapL’s scenario based questions to dribble expected behaviors every day till employees mastered the needed tricks.

For a fact, at one of India’s largest FMCG companies, employees are mandated to complete a training module on “Dealing with Irate Customers” over the RapL app before they are even eligible for their R&R (Rewards and Recognition).

Illustration of a RapL report that rank stacks employees on their up-sell and cross-sell knowledges

Like in the case of up-selling and cross-selling above, managers have access to detailed reports at an individual, store, zone or national level on their competency in dealing with irate customers. These reports, dashboards, and insights roll up all the way to the top leadership in the company.

Employees who fail to get certified get “extra attention” from their managers till they are adept in dealing with difficult situations.

  • Aligning employee skills with responsibilities

    This is an area RapL customers continue to vouch for us in their monthly and quarterly review calls. With RapL, retail leaders are getting an unprecedented view of the skills (and gaps) at an individual, team and company levelThis data is provided at a degree which is most granular, in their experience of working in retail.

    (Sidenote: If you are reading about RapL for the first time, here is a nifty explanation of what we do – RapL helps capability development teams break down learning content into bite sized chunks. If a product mix comprises 100+ products, each product’s USP is communicated one at a time so employees retain as much information as possible for productive work. This information is delivered via RapL’s mobile app, which has grabbed some great reviews)

    With RapL, managers have data-driven answers to questions like 

    • Which employee is great at upselling?
    • Which employee has good communication skills?
    • Which employee has incredible problem solving skills? (so they can be given the responsibility of improving retail conversion rate or evaluating inventory shrinkage)
    • Which employee has strong mathematical skills?

And so on.

RapL’s skill-sights present a detailed lay of the land for leaders, and perhaps for the first time, they will have insights to what they seemed to know by hunch, but now supported by data.

Using such insights, capability teams are

  • Building a business case for new development interventions
  • Assigning employees to jobs conducive to their strengths, thereby preventing attrition
  • Aligning rewards and recognition programs to RapL reports
  • Integrating RapL reports to other systems of business operations 

These are just a few ways in which RapL is proving to be indispensable to the modern retailer. With aggregate information levels of customers on the rise, the expectations of today’s retail employees are that of assertive assistance. RapL is the means to this end. 

How are you tackling the revenue/employee equation in your environment? Reach us at – to give us a  peek into your challenges and we’d love to share notes on how our customers solved these challenges in their landscape. 

Thanks for being with us all the way here

Dear reader, thanks for being with us all the way till the end. We suggest 2 things from here

1. Speak to us if you want a microlearning strategy deep-dive: Microlearning is extremely effective, if approached sensibly. Microlearning is the answer to today’s shortening attention spans and we know how to make learning successful via microlearning. Drop your context here and we shall partner with you for the rest.

2. Lap up more content: We have written some intense literature on how microlearning is the superglue between people and successful business operations. Access all of it here.

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