Fact: Online learning can increase sales

Sales will increase if a manager ensures that his or her team are well trained in products and how to offer great service. The real challenge is enabling managers to have access to excellent training materials that can be delivered instantly at the point when employees need it.


Upskill People continually looks to improve the effectiveness of our online learning. A recent confidential and ongoing project involved working with a leading retail food operator with several hundred outlets to prove that the investment in online learning pays back in a genuine increase in sales performance.

We needed to isolate the impact of the learning, so we selected two outlets that have identical offerings, similar sized teams, comparable footfall, location and demographic. Site 1 was given access to online learning and Site 2 (the control site) continued to use conventional methods of sales and product knowledge training.

Phase One assessed the impact over 12 weeks with subsequent phases expanding the number of outlets and also investigating ways to sustain improved sales performance.

Management Training

In the first week of the project, all managers at Site 1 completed the online learning. This gave the managers knowledge and a complete understanding of the courses, so they could support their employees. Feedback from managers was positive and all completed the courses in a few days, learning in short sessions.

Employee Development

At Site 1 the full employee base was given online access to Upskill People’s online learning platform and courses. Because the online learning is concise, 116 employees at the single site were initially trained within 10 days on the following courses:

  • Food Sales and Service Essentials
  • Food Sales and Service Skills
  • Red Wine, White Wine and Cask Ale

The Food Sales and Service Essentials & Skills courses enable employees to learn and practice skills, and give them the confidence to deliver an excellent guest experience, every time.

The Cask Ale and Wine courses improve product knowledge and train employees how to utilise this knowledge to advise customers and improve rapport to deliver an increase in sales.

All courses were completed in an average of around 70 minutes.


The online learning platform prompts the learner to complete a survey at the end of each course so employees’ feedback on the courses and delivery can be tracked in real time.

  • 81% AGREED THEY LEARNED KNOWLEDGE and skills they could use from the course
  • 80% found that having sound, pictures and animation helped them understand and remember
  • 77% agreed that they enjoyed learning in this way
  • 79% found the courses easy to use.


Anecdotal feedback from staff members was also positive. One employee said, “I liked the fact it was all in one place, had some INTERESTING FACTS THAT COULD BE PASSED ON TO CUSTOMERS, was sensibly laid out and easy to navigate.”

A manager commented, “I have seen an increase in the up sales and STAFF ARE MORE CONFIDENT about how to up sell and what to up sell.”

Sales Impact

The evaluation of sales took place over 12-weeks with the first two weeks allocated for training the whole team. Throughout the 12 weeks, all new starters were trained within two weeks of joining the outlet. This was a simple exercise as the platform and courses were always available and are compatible on PC, Tablet and Smartphone.

Total outlet sales and category sales were monitored to see if there was a consistent increase in sales when comparing Site 1 to Site 2. External influences such as time of year, holidays and an increase in staff numbers were factored into the results.


Starting from a base point, there was a marked increase in Total Sales with Site 1 pulling away from Site 2 as soon as training began and continuing to outperform Site 2 during the 12-week period.


The increases in sales of wine and cask ale were sustained throughout the 12-week period. There were a number of new starters between weeks 6-8 and week 11-12 which resulted in a dip in sales before quickly rising again once they were upskilled. The results show that TRAINING WAS RETAINED as there was a SUSTAINED SALES IMPROVEMENT in total and category following the online learning. At Site 2 no online learning was delivered and there was no comparable increase in sales.

  • WINE SALES INCREASED ON AVERAGE BY 19% as a percentage of total sales
  • CASK ALE SALES INCREASED ON AVERAGE BY 11% as a percentage of total sales



  • A SALES INCREASE OF CIRCA £5,000 PER YEAR when 12 weeks applied to a 12 month period

The project sponsor for the client says, “We can be very CONFIDENT THAT THE TRAINING DELIVERED THE SALES INCREASES. This was made possible by the quality of learning from Upskill People, the ability for training to be delivered in a short space of time and accessibility on all devices.”

“This study is important for Upskill People as it shows that our method of delivering training is not just viable and cost-effective but also directly delivers an increase in sales,” says Creative Director, Pete Fullard. “We can now demonstrate that our approach delivers skills and information that employees can immediately put to use to IMPROVE THE GUEST EXPERIENCE and increase sales. Because online learning can be instantly delivered and people quickly trained, we can be EXTREMELY ACCURATE WITH THE DATA and what successes can be attributed to online learning.”

Project Phase 2

The sales performance at the two sites continues to be monitored. All new starters at Site 1 continue to complete online learning. A refresher course is scheduled for 4-6 months post-delivery of the initial online learning for Site 1 to ensure skills are embedded and sales increases are sustained.

In addition to the continual monitoring of Site 1 and 2, 12-18 further sites will be added to this pilot. These will have a different offering/format and sales performance will be measured against comparable control sites for 12 weeks to complete the project.

Pete Fullard, Creative Director of Upskill People, says, “We are delighted with these results. Give staff any type of quality training and they will improve. This study proves that with the support of a committed management team, quality online learning can not only be cost effective but can POSITIVELY IMPACT ON SALES AND SERVICE.”