When Jez Light was hired as Superdry’s learning and development manager, the brand was growing at an exponential rate – and staff were being left in a tailspin. After it reacquired its US arm, the business – a youth-oriented brand with 139 stores in the UK and Europe – saw a pressing need to address knowledge gaps on the shop floor. “Lots of the staff in America did not understand the brand, had little knowledge of Superdry and had no product knowledge. The service was dreadful and sales were low,” Light says.
Meanwhile, seasonal workers this side of the Atlantic needed to get up to speed too, and it was felt the workforce could do more to act as ‘brand ambassadors’ in stores. Light launched Superdry’s Sales and Service (SAS) programme, which he based around four key pillars: passion for the brand, product knowledge, personalised service and positive selling attitude.
And he did it in a suitably millennial way: rather than classroom learning or hefty manuals, the programme was tailored for digitally enabled employees, using in-store Kindles, video learning, gamified learning tools and social media channels to teach staff about product delivery and customer satisfaction.
“The days of the 9-5 training course are over – everyone wants to have fun and five minutes of fame, so why not channel that in a way that delivers to the brand and customers?” Light says.
A competitive element meant employees were soon in a race to earn ‘selling stripes’ by completing modules, while more than 1,800 internal Instagram followers were getting to grips with products in a highly visual way – a focus on interactivity that particularly impressed the judges.
The SAS programme was initially trialled in the US before being rolled out to Superdry stores in the UK and Europe. Upskilling confident in-store managers as ‘SAS champions’ meant it was high-impact and low-spend; the programme was delivered to 122 locations by a threadbare L&D team, while seasonal staff were supplied with interactive pdfs to help them understand the brand, products and services before starting work.
While employee engagement is notoriously tricky to link to business objectives, Superdry says it can attribute an average £15 additional customer spend to the learning programme, and has seen a 51 per cent overall increase in customer satisfaction following the introduction of the scheme. Employees have bought into SAS with enthusiasm, their creativity literally paying off, adds Light. Little wonder the business says it’s so “proud” of its efforts.