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Case Code Case Length Period Pub Date Teaching Note Organization Industry Countries : : : : : : : : HROB118 12 pages 2003-2009 2009 Not Available Nike Inc. Apparel and Footwear USA For delivery in electronic format: Rs. 300; For delivery through courier (within India): Rs. 300 + Rs. 25 for Shipping & Handling Charges

Themes
Training & Development / Training Design /elearning /Sales Training

Abstract:
By the early2000s, Nike, Inc. (Nike), one of the world's leading footwear and apparel companies, had became well-known for continuously churning out innovative products and building up traffic to the stores through its advertising. However, the company realized that the customers' purchase decision was influenced by the sales associates they interacted with on the stores. So, training these employees was very necessary, but the fact that most of the sales associates were in their late teens or early 20s posed a challenge as this group brought their own unique characteristics to the workplace and was not very receptive to the traditional forms of training. Moreover, the turnover of the sales associates was very high. This meant that the company always had new associates who needed to be trained on selling skills and product knowledge. But providing them with training through traditional means was not a viable option due to the high turnover rate. To address these challenges, a team at Nike designed an e-learning program in 2003 called Nike 'Sports Knowledge Underground' (SKU) for the thousands of sales associates stationed in its own stores and that of other retailers that kept Nike inventory. The interactive web-based training program closely resembled a video game, and immediately caught the attention of industry observers.

Issues:
To understand entry behavior in designing and implementing a training program. To analyze the Nike 'Sports Knowledge Underground' program and how it enabled training of Nike's front-line sales force. To understand the issues and challenges in designing and implementing an e-learning program. To discuss the pros and cons of using an e-learning program. To discuss how training can be imparted through modes such as video games and over the mobile phone (m-learning) and the viability of this.

Contents:
Page No. 1 2 3 4 6 8

Introduction Background Note The Challenge Sports Knowledge Underground Results Exhibits

Key Words:

Training, Sales training, Training design, Entry behavior, e-learning, m-learning, Simulation, instructional design, product training, Communication, Generation Y, Digital generation, Sports Knowledge Underground, retail, Nike

"The Nike Sports Knowledge Underground (SKU), an online learning environment for retail employees, plays the urban subway system metaphor to the tilt, with each station representing a training activity."1
- Anders Gronstedt, President, Gronstedt Group, Inc.2, in December 2008.

"We knew that we did a great job of advertising and that we could drive people into the stores, but ultimately the person that is talking to the customer is a 16- to 22-year-old kid We wanted them to have a better dialogue with the consumer,"3
- Mike Donahue, Program Director / E-Learning Manager, Nike, Inc., in 2005.

Introduction
Nike, Inc. (Nike), one of the world's leading footwear and apparel companies, designed an e-learning program in 2003 for the thousands of sales associates stationed in the stores that sold its products. The interactive web-based training program, called 'Sports Knowledge Underground' (SKU), closely resembled a video game, and immediately caught the attention of industry observers. While Nike was known for continuously churning out innovative products and building up traffic to the stores through its advertising, it also understood the importance of the front-line sales professionals posted in the stores who facilitated the purchase of its products.

The problem facing Nike was that the rate of employee turnover at the stores was very high. This meant that the company always had new associates who needed to be trained on selling skills as well as on the products. The fact that most of the sales associates were in their late teens or early 20s posed another challenge as this group brought their own unique characteristics to the workplace and was not very receptive to the traditional forms of training. Keeping this demographic segment in mind, Nike came out with the SKU program, which was then used to train thousands of sales associates in Nike's own stores and that of other retailers that kept Nike inventory. According to the company, the stores using this program for training showed better sales performance than other stores.4...

Background Note
In 1957, Phil Knight (Knight), an undergraduate student and middledistance athlete at the University of Oregon, and Bill Bowerman (Bowerman), his athletics coach, realized the need for a good quality American sports shoe...

The Challenge
Over the years, Nike had earned a name for itself for its innovative products. But the company also realized that bringing out innovative products alone and advertising them effectively would not suffice; it would also have to ensure that the sales associates at the stores had good product knowledge and were able to pitch the benefits of the products to the customer...

Sports Knowledge Underground

The team came out with the Sports Knowledge Underground (SKU), an online interactive program with flash animation and sound. Regarding the origin of the name, Donahue said, "We were throwing out ideas, and someone suggested that we needed to come up with something edgy, something underground."...

Results
The e-learning program met with good response. By the end of 2006, over one million modules had been completed and more than 50,000 hours of product training were delivered. By early 2007, SKU was used to train more than 35,000 sales associates across its own stores and that of other retailers...

Exhibits
Exhibit Exhibit Exhibit Exhibit Exhibit Exhibit Exhibit Exhibit I: The Swoosh - Nike's Logo II: Key Financials of Nike III: A Brief Note on E-learning IV: Screenshot of the SKU Website V: Product Categories in SKU (As of 2007) VI: Some Characteristics of Generation Y Learners VII: New Communication for the Digital Generation VIII: Some Differences between Classroom Training, E-learning, and M-learning

http://www.icmrindia.org/casestudies/catalogue/Human%20Resource%20and%20Organization%20Beh avior/Nike-Sports%20Knowledge-E-learning-Case%20Studies.htm