Training up to 300,000 retail staff to sell more Amazon products

Amazon has the biggest online platform in the world on which to sell its own products, but it also sells vast numbers of Echo, Alexa, Fire and Kindle products via a global network of retailers.

While many of the resellers operate vast businesses of their own, often sales are dependent on individual retail staff talking to customers on the shop floor. Amazon wanted to be able to reach these staff members with the information they need in order to recommend Amazon products over their competitors.

An existing platform was little used, light on product information and not fulfilling its purpose. We partnered with Iris Worldwide to create the Alexa Academy, a learning platform that would:

  • Build a network of members recommending Amazon products in store.
  • Maintain communication with members. 
  • Deliver a learning experience aligned with Amazon’s brand.
  • Use gamification to reward completion of courses.
  • Deliver up-to-date, easily accessible and bitesize learning content.
  • Allow members to train on their phone while at work or on the go.
  • Be scalable for up to 300,000 users with multi-lingual support.

Rewarding and responsive

Following an initial discovery session with Amazon, we devised a plan for a new Totara Learn platform and a phased release of learning content, features and countries.

We needed to strike the balance between making it as easy as possible for retail staff to sign up to the site, and providing enough information for Amazon to track its return on investment from the platform.

We designed a landing page that has strong calls to action to sign up to the platform, and makes it clear why signing up is a good idea. A simple registration process provides a good user experience while also capturing enough information to allow Amazon to associate the account with a particular retailer and even specific stores within a retail group.

When they login, each member is greeted with a personal dashboard giving access to the courses. These are displayed in order of priority and follow a logical sequence. There’s an option to pick up where you left off on a previous course or choose a different course. Each user will see an indication of their overall progress through the training, a snapshot of their course completion achievements to date and even their employer’s branding.

We grouped the courses together into product families. This makes it easier for members to find a particular course and also avoids them being overwhelmed by seeing a large number of courses to complete. Instead, they first select a product family, such as Echo, which then reveals the full range of courses relating to Echo products.

Rewarding users for learning about Amazon products is crucial to the success of the site. We included the option to award badges to users as certification of completing particular courses. For example, a user can become a Fire TV Customer Expert, which unlocks new areas of the site and enters them into a competition. A future phase of the site will include a rewards point builder and shop, where users will be able to trade in points they’ve earned through learning for products and other rewards.

We display all available certifications on the badge wall, which shows users the badges they are yet to earn. This encourages engagement and return visits to achieve the certifications, and  to access the rewards for doing so.

With all that engaging content, it’s important that the Alexa Academy can be accessed easily by members at a time that’s convenient to them. The site itself and all content is responsive, so it can be quickly accessed from a phone on the shop floor or staff room. But it works just as well on a tablet while relaxing on the sofa or on a desktop computer in the office.

Tracking how online learning impacts sales

The Alexa Academy has launched in five key markets as a pilot scheme, with plans for expansion into more markets and languages in the next phase. Future versions of the site will also include new features and content.

We’ve created the site in such a way that Amazon can manage large areas of it without assistance, so they’re not reliant on us to make all the changes. Our handover process included training on the new system to ensure the Amazon team know how everything works and can run the Academy smoothly day-to-day.

We’re expecting significant increases in engagement compared to the previous site. What’s even more exciting is that we’ll see how that engagement translates into sales. The information captured in the registration process will allow Amazon to see the impact of learning on sales, and determine how increased engagement with the Alexa Academy drives sales for individual users, specific stores and whole retail groups.

“Ask Alexa is a learning platform […] to help you learn about Amazon devices, so [retail staff can] guide [their] customers with confidence. Learn more about our products, test your knowledge with a quiz, or run through common customer scenarios. The more you know, the better you sell.”

Amazon Ask Alexa | Amazon

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