Udemy for Business™ — How Organizations Upskill Employees to Ensure They Can Compete in the Modern Retail Marketplace
10.4.17 Personal Development

Udemy for Business™ — How Organizations Upskill Employees to Ensure They Can Compete in the Modern Retail Marketplace

By: Jon McDonald

The Crunch: As the growth of e-commerce and the rise of digitization modernize the workforce, traditional retail jobs, like cashier positions, are giving way to emerging fields such as data science. The Udemy for Business workplace learning platform gives employees a user-friendly way to learn the skills they need to thrive in the current retail climate. With hundreds of billions of dollars spent annually on workforce development, Udemy for Business was established to provide companies and their employees with a comprehensive, cost-effective tool for developing and cultivating valuable technical and soft skills. And by using advanced analytics to know which types of training are most in-demand and how users interact with the material, Udemy for Business can guide future content offerings in high-demand areas.

In today’s fast-moving retail world, businesses can’t afford to let their employees fall behind on the skill sets they need to do their jobs. Workers must be fluent in the new technologies and platforms as the digital business landscape evolves.

Many retailers find it difficult to educate — or retrain — workers on skills that are future-focused. That quandary has led retail to lag behind other industries in keeping its workforce current on digital technology.

Photo of Udemy for Business General Manager Darren Shimkus

Udemy for Business General Manager Darren Shimkus talked to us about the platform’s workforce applications.

Udemy for Business gives retailers access to a comprehensive array of online video-based training content to help their employees develop the skills needed to stay productive in a fiercely competitive marketplace.

“The retail landscape is shifting, and that is putting tremendous stress on these organizations to build the skills they need to thrive in this new world,” Udemy for Business General Manager Darren Shimkus said. “We work with some of the biggest retailers on earth, and if you look at their centralized organizations, there’s this emergence of data science as a discipline that didn’t exist before.”

The technical courses on Udemy that benefit retail include data-driven science, development, coding, and IT. Udemy’s soft-skills content covers areas that include leadership, management, customer service, and problem-solving. This content area gives retail organizations — especially their employees at brick-and-mortar stores — the customer service skills needed to remain a desired channel for shoppers.

Companies can also use Udemy for Business as an affordable solution to provide their own comprehensive workforce training programs, leveraging the learning science that powers the successful courses found on the platform.

From custom content to thousands of high-demand course offerings, Udemy for Business is helping brands upskill employees for the future of retail.

Filling a Major Workforce Training Need for Companies

Founded in San Francisco in 2009, Udemy launched as an online education platform where anyone could learn just about anything and has since grown into the world’s largest online learning marketplace. Subject area experts create content and serve as online instructors for students learning new skills in areas such as fitness, marketing, music, and technology.

Over time, the company discovered that 77% of the people using Udemy were learning new skills to use in their careers, Darren told us. That discovery set the wheels in motion for the establishment of Udemy for Business.

“Businesses around the world were spending $300 billion a year on training, $180 billion in the US alone, but there was this big disconnect. Even with all of those resources being spent on training people, we still have tens of millions of people coming to us to learn business skills,” Darren said. “So we thought there was an opportunity to deliver a more modern learning experience with the material users want to learn.”

Udemy for Business launched approximately four years after Udemy was founded. Darren said the company knew there was corporate demand, but wanted to take time to build content that meets today’s business needs, such as robust analytical tools to make sense of the learning paths employees were taking.

Giving Employees the Knowledge Required to Thrive

Online payment giant PayPal is one of Udemy for Business’s biggest success stories. Paypal Chief Learning Officer Derek Hann said employees would spend up to 300 minutes learning a skill that drew their interest. That included the technical and, for PayPal, valuable skill of writing Node.js code to run JavaScript on a server.

Derek said Udemy for Business analytics showed which courses PayPal employees were interested in and which ones they were clicking on but leaving quickly. He said the company learned a staggering amount about what employees want to learn, when they learn it, and how long they spend on specific courses.

“It’s not just technical skills that retail employees need. We see a fundamental shift in job skills all across the supply chain as distribution centers become more and more automated. Stocking shelves, category management, and retail cashiers, a lot of those jobs are going away,” Darren said. “That landscape has changed. So how do you prepare for a world where what it takes to succeed at a retail level is about enhanced customer service and problem-solving?”

The 2,000+ courses offered by Udemy for Business mix high-demand technology topics — including data science, digital marketing, search engine optimization, and social media marketing — with the interpersonal skills employees need to interact with coworkers and customers. Some of those topics include problem resolution, leadership, how to handle difficult work conversations, and how to read body language.

“The question is: ‘Do you have the soft skills required to thrive in this new world?’” Darren said. “And a lot of the employees we work with say, ‘No.’ They’re using us to help build those soft skills, so they’re able to meet this promise and thrive in this new landscape.”

Using Learning Science and Analytics to Customize Content

Udemy continuously analyzes data to see how people learn. That includes the time of day they take a training course, whether they use a desktop or a mobile device to access a course, and which are the preferred courses.

“Learning science is built into everything we do,” Darren said. “We have a whole team looking at billions of interactions. How do 17 million students interact with 55,000 different courses? We’re looking at that data to determine where do people engage, how do they engage, and where they drop off.”

That analysis, along with course material review and student feedback, helps determine which courses are offered in the platform’s curated Udemy for Business catalog. It also keeps the length of individual video lessons to two- to six-minute segments, the micro-learning moments Darren said employees might have available between job tasks to learn new concepts that lead to long-term skills.

Udemy for Business study of learning patterns

Udemy tracks user trends to recommend courses to individual employees based on their prior areas of interest, and companies can even use the platform to create their own customized learning content for employees.

“Based on courses you have already enrolled in, what are you likely to enroll in next?” Darren said. “Our technology looks at those connections.”

For example, if an employee has taken a course in how to have a one-on-one meeting, they may want a course on how to handle a difficult conversation next.

Business clients also get access to a robust set of analytics to see which skills are areas of need in their workforce.

Udemy for Business allows organizations to see who is learning, what they are learning, when they are learning, and which topics are trending. For companies using a customized content curriculum, that data sheds light on the most pressing needs in an organization.

A Comprehensive Educational Platform to Scale with Your Staff

As the retail world continues to evolve in the digital age, Udemy for Business gives companies and their employees a comprehensive learning platform to develop the skills of the future.

Because organizations have different needs, Udemy for Business offers separate subscription plans for companies with five to 20 employees and those with a staff of 21 or more. And the video-based course content, which is developed and taught by subject experts, is available anytime, anywhere, including on mobile devices.

Course offerings are continually updated based on the latest skills needed in the job market.

“We want to give employees the ability to do whatever comes next,” Darren said. “The world is changing so much that people struggle to keep up with new skills. That’s where Udemy for Business comes in.”