COVID-19 forced many industries to pivot to digital, and pivot quickly. The retail industry is no exception.
In the past few years (even pre-COVID), the retail industry had already seen a shift from offline stores to e-commerce as consumers started to buy more goods online. COVID-19 has only accelerated that move into a tsunami.
The lockdowns in 2020 played a huge role in accelerating the transition to digital shopping platforms. E-commerce became the only way that retailers could make their products readily available to consumers and the only means for companies to keep their business afloat.
Retailers now have no choice but to embrace digital.
Data from Singapore’s Department of Statistics show an undeniable increase in online retail sales from March 2020 to July 2020, the period when Singapore entered her COVID-19 Circuit Breaker.
Big e-commerce players like Lazada, Qoo10 and Shopee also saw a spike in platform sales. According to Vulcan Post, Shopee experienced an 82% increase in the number of user visits from 6 million visits in the first quarter of 2020, to 11 million visits in the second quarter of 2020.
Has the e-commerce future arrived “early” for the retail industry?
Indeed, Singapore has witnessed an increase in emerging small businesses online, some online only.
By having an online presence, companies are able to reach significantly more consumers as opposed to relying on human traffic visiting a physical store.
With retailers adding online channels and using technology to their advantage — products, customer service chat, doorstep delivery, personal online shopping and even virtual product try-ons can make your business available to consumers 24/7, all around the world.
Equipping the Retail Workforce for the e-Commerce Present
With operations shifting online, it is necessary that retail training and HR processes be taken digital as well — to increase efficiency and reduce cost for retailers.
Training new hires online isn’t as daunting of a task as it might seem. In fact, it saves companies the trouble, time and money of organising physical training sessions. The training content would also need to change. E.g. Following the shift from physical to online stores, staff need to be retrained to learn how to serve customers online rather than face-to-face.
With ArcLab, creating training modules has been made simple with our easy-to-use interface. Disseminate the modules digitally to all staff at a few clicks of the button and our system automatically tracks their performances and stores all necessary records.
Editor’s Note: Joanna is our first marketing student intern from Singapore Polytechnic School of Business. Her internship period coincided with COVID-19’s escalation, so she had to work-from-home a mere 2 weeks after she started her stint with us. While some may have found it hard to work without closer guidance & supervision, Joanna took #WFH in her stride (read her thoughts here), adapted quickly and was productive for ArcLab very quickly. Here’s Joanna’s story:
Like every other intern on their first day in their new workplace, I was nervous and unsure of what to expect. Interning at ArcLab is nothing like I had imagined interning would be like — but in the best way possible.
Since ArcLab Upskills the World’s Deskless workforce through Nano Learning, I have condensed my entire internship journey into an ArcLab module.
Here is the longer version:
The atmosphere in the office was always welcoming, warm and lively. Both the interns and full-time staff were always willing to help one another out. However, sadly due to COVID-19, we had to start working from home just a few weeks after internship started. Despite not seeing everyone in the office face to face, we had weekly Zoom “stand-ups” to update one another on new projects we were working on and its progress throughout the week.
I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to work on several projects, and help ArcLab create & distribute new content to educate prospective users on how digital & mobile learning can help their organisations.
Being new to the Marketing/ EduTech industry, I definitely learnt a lot from the 5 short months that I have been here so far (with the help and guidance of Nicholas, who intern-ed in the preceding 4 months and extended for an additional 4 months to overlap with my stint, as well as James, my supervisor).
The first project I had been tasked with was co-writing a “Guide to Nano Learning” ebook with the Learning Design team. Being someone that loves to write and design, I thoroughly enjoyed this entire project- seeing how it progressed over the weeks, and eventually how it came into completion. You can download it at: https://www.arclab.io
One thing about interning at ArcLab is the endless number of hands-on experiences. James is always open to any suggestions that I have, saying that “as long as the idea is supported with research and reasoning”. This could mean proposing a certain way of doing things, or even coming up with new content for ArcLab. In terms of new content, I was able to help co-create 3 new ArcLab Nano Learning series: 1. “Split Teams & Remote Work” to help organisations ease staff into WFH arrangements with the COVID-19 onset, and multi-lingual training modules for “Domestic Workers” and “Migrant Workers”.
For me, proposing a new ArcLab module series and creating modules was always a fun process. Although it involved a great deal of research, it was always interesting to read up on new topics and take a break from the more routine aspects of work. Under James’ guidance, I also had the chance to design ArcLab’s “COVID-19” solutions page (which listed all the efforts ArcLab undertook to help companies during the COVID-19 situation), a “Solutions” page, as well as a “Product” page on ArcLab’s website. Through this experience, I was able to pick up basic elements of web design and Photoshop and learnt how to create beautiful GIFs.
Working at ArcLab has also given me vast insight into the marketing science that helps B2B to grow. I helped design and create ArcLab monthly subscription newsletters, plan our content strategy and manage ArcLab’s social media accounts, write ArcLab blog posts, as well as help improve and revamp ArcLab’s website.
In school, we mainly focus on B2C marketing, which I came to learn was a stark contrast to how B2B marketing is. For example, B2C marketing relies heavily on social media such as Instagram to promote their brand to consumers, as compared to B2B marketing where brands are more heavily reliant on LinkedIn social media.
Another aspect of B2B marketing is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). Having minimal prior knowledge in these areas as well, working on both SEO and SEM helped me gain deeper understanding in the “technical” aspects of marketing. A key takeaway that I had from experimenting with SEO and SEM is that, it has no one fixed method — it requires several rounds of trial and error to find the optimal method which is best suited for your company and its target audience.
I’m very grateful for the chance to intern at ArcLab, as it has been an experience filled with countless number of opportunities, and gaining new exposure to several aspects of B2B marketing that I did not have the chance to learn in school. While the current COVID-19 situation has not been the most to intern in (having to work from home), it taught me a lot about discipline, and the importance of regular communication.
With more and more organisations coming to recognise the convenience and benefits brought about by Nano Learning (Mobile Learning) due to the recent COVID-19, it is no doubt that Nano Learning is here to stay even after this pandemic.
Editor’s Note: Last month, Joanna interviewed Claire, our former dev intern so instrumental in assisting CTO Steven in building ArcLab. This month, Joanna speaks to Rohit Rajesh and Kimberly Pontanares to get their perspectives on working with Steven to develop ArcLab.
Rohit interned with us after completing National Service and while awaiting University admission. While not formally-schooled in software development, Rohit brought substantial coding knowledge from self-study and Tinkercademy classes, a relentless drive to build great software and a great learning attitude.
Kimberly continues ArcLab’s tradition of collaboration with Singapore Polytechnic’s School of Computing, following in the footsteps of Claire, Francis, Darryl, Zainul and Bing. Adept in coding and possessing a great visual sense, she’s a showcase of the excellent work SP does in nurturing industry-ready tech talent that will play (and are already playing) a big part in solving real-world problems to improve lives and livelihoods.
We are excited to once again bring you a new ArcLab Platform Update for August!
This month, I interviewed Kimberly and Rohit who were involved in the upgrade of the new ArcLab dashboard.
Joanna (J): “Hi Kimberly and Rohit! Thank you for agreeing to this interview. We wanted to get some insights from the creative minds behind the new ArcLab upgrade!”
Kimberly (K): “Thank you! First, let me explained what we have designed: ”
Learner Analytics — Filter Feature
Filter your learner analytics and view the analytics of your published project by date. Simply select the start and end date on the calendar tab to segment your learners (by cohort, etc.)!
Media for EVERY ArcLab screen
Media can be added to almost every screen … or not — the choice is yours!
“Project Settings” — Reloaded
We have also split “Project Settings” into 3 tabs — Manage Learners, Manage Emails and Question Settings, so that Training / L&D Managers have greater granularity of control!
Lastly, we added a folder system in the ArcLab Dashboard. This feature allows you to move projects to folders, so you can manage your various projects more easily and effectively. You also have the ability to rename, delete a folder and remove a project from a folder.
J:“Wow! I hope ArcLab users will find these updates as useful as we did! Could you guys share about the reasons behind including these features?”
K:“For sure! The folder system was something Claire and I discussed to be included for ArcLab’s UI/UX Refresh. We included it to provide users a way to manage their projects more efficiently by enabling them to further categorise their various projects and facilitate easier access.
While the filter analytics by date was included to further enhance users’ experience when studying learners’ analytics by allowing them to view the calculated statistics (which learners completed the module, how many attempts did a learner take on a specific date, etc.) This also makes it easier to find specific learners that completed the module within a certain date, and help L&D managers segment users into cohorts for easier tracking.”
Rohit (R): “Meanwhile, media inserts were added (and made optional) on a variety of screens so that learners can be exposed to media regardless of the ArcLab screen type. All in all this allows for more flexibility in the creation of projects for learners — to make learning more effective.”
J:“Thank you for sharing! Lastly, could you give us a sneak peak of what we can expect in the next update?”
R: “Of course! Do stay tuned for the next update because ArcLab’s dev team is excited to bring you:
What to expect in the next Dev Update?
ArcLab’s team is always listening to your feedback and seeking ways to improve — part of our never-ending quest to build the world’s Simplest Learning System.
You can next expect:
A “Discover” feature where L&D Managers can source for training templates to adapt to their organisations’ specific needs.
Further enhancement of the Learner Analytics Dashboard
Additional features such as editing and uploading photos in the Question Bank.
J:“Thank you for your hard work, Kim and Rohit! With both your internships ending soon, what did you learn most from your time at ArcLab?”
R: “Firstly, I learnt how to work effectively from home as I sadly only managed to spend a day in the office before being restricted to WFH. I realised that creation of daily task lists and a rough timetable for the day help immensely!
Under the guidance of our CTO Steven, I was exposed to DevOps as well as technologies like Docker and Jenkins in order to streamline development processes in the firm. Some notable ones include the creation of Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery pipelines allowing for rapid deployments and testings, and containerisation of the application for developmental work. I was also further exposed to tools in Amazon Web Services (AWS) such as Lambda, S3, CloudFront, and Elemental MediaConvert in the creation of the video upload feature for learners.
I also learnt how to work closely as part of a team. As a lean team, communication and teamwork is paramount to the monthly updates we push out for our users. This includes biweekly sprints, where we gather feedback from users and prioritise tasks. We have weekly “standups” where we talk about what we have achieved in the previous and the coming week, and, of course, daily chats with fellow colleagues on bugs that were discovered and/or any user requests that require urgent attentions. With WFH, the importance of communication was amplified, as you could no longer just shout over your shoulder to find out what your fellow dev was up to or to look for help.”
K:“While working at ArcLab, I learned a great deal about the process to find the most efficient way to develop and implement features that give our users the best user experience. I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to work and learn from everyone here.”
J:“Thank you to both of you for sharing your insights!”
Postscript — Rohit will soon start his undergrad studies at National University of Singapore, while Kimberly heads back to Singapore Polytechnic for her final semester. We wish them both the very best and hope they put ArcLab at the top of their list when considering future employment. 😊
Editor’s Note: ArcLab believes in authentic learning. Students interning with us work on REAL projects to help them translate school-learnt theory into industry-relevant skills.
Singapore Polytechnic School of Computing student Claire Liew interned with ArcLab in 2019–20, working closely with our CTO Steven to build features of ArcLab’s mobile learning software platform. Claire was mature, self-driven, resourceful and had great design & coding chops. Guided by Steven, Claire led ArcLab’s dashboard upgrade — continuing ArcLab’s never-ending quest to build the World’s Simplest Learning System, to help organisations everywhere Upskill the World’s Deskless Workforce.
We interviewed Claire in in her last internship week to get her thoughts on building ArcLab’s new dashboard.
We are excited to introduce your Brand New ArcLab Dashboard! 🤗
I interviewed Claire about the upgrades we launched earlier this month.
Joanna (J): “Hi Claire! Thank you for working so hard on the new ArcLab Dashboard. We’ve been getting great feedback from users and wanted to tap your views on what went behind the new design”.
Claire (Cl): “Thank you! First let me explain what we built:
Sorting & Filtering your learning modules made easy
A search bar to search for a specific project name
View your projects in 2 categories: “Unfinished” or “Published projects”
Use the column headings on the table to sort your projects in ascending/ descending order based on Project Name or Recency
Delete or duplicate your projects just with the click of a button
These features save you the trouble of scrolling through your entire dashboard just to find that one module you are looking for!
More intuitive Navigation Bar
Features such as Project Settings and Learner Analytics have been moved to a more optimal and intuitive location in the Editor. Take a look at the graphic below, and also see ArcLab’s user guide for comprehensive step-by-step instructions!
Compulsory Open-Ended Questions toggle
We also now give users the option to make Open-Ended Questions compulsory. This is particularly important for Assessment modules (which we’re also considering ways to make the grading process more automated and intuitive — stay tuned for that).
Send Digital Certificates to Learners
We received feedback from many users asking if they could send a “completion” certificate to learners.
The answer is now YES. If you are an employer or content creator designing these modules for your learners, you can now personalise your employees’ learning by sending them digital NanoCreds (certificates) when they complete/ pass the module. The best part? Being able to include your OWN digital signature on the certificate as well!
J: “Wow, Claire. I hope ArcLab users will enjoy this update as much as I do! So why did ArcLab include these features?”
Cl: “We included these features because we keep learning from our users to keep improving the platform so it can better serve user needs.
We had received feedback that the ArcLab dashboard should let users more easily visualise all the learning modules and analytics at one go. So we took it on board and iterated our design to help users do just that.
By improving your module editor in the other small ways I described above, we hope creating #nanolearning modules can be made even more fuss-free and personalised (for you and your learners)! As we get more user feedback, ArcLab will keep improving the platform.”
J: “Thanks for sharing Claire! Just one more thing — could you possibly give us a sneak peak of what we can expect in the next update?”
Cl: “Of course, do stay tuned because here’s what ArcLab’s dev team is building:
What are we building next?
Our team keeps working hard to listen to users and build what’s needed to best solve user organisations’ training pain points. We will soon release:
Video Uploads (for ArcLab PRO users) — this adds to Youtube/Vimeo videos you can already embed directly into ArcLab modules
Explanations for MCQ Answers — allowing your learners to see individualised explanations based on their answers
…and several more which you should follow our blog to find out 😉”
J: “Thank you for your hard work, Claire! What did you learn most from your time with ArcLab?
Cl: “I learned how rewarding it is to be able to ship live features tailored to our users’ needs. Also, I’ve learned a lot of technical and soft skills from everyone here at ArcLab. It was definitely an enriching experience for me.”
J: “It’s been really great to be team-mates. All the best to your future endeavours!”
Postscript— Claire graduated from Singapore Polytechnic and will soon start her undergraduate studies at Singapore Management University. We wish her the very best and hope she considers us favourably when contemplating future employment opportunities 😊
Meanwhile, if you have any feedback or suggestions, please drop us an email, we would love to hear from you. ArcLab continues to work hard to #Upskill the World’s Deskless Workforce. Always #Day1.
Editor’s note: ArcLab is privileged to work closely with Singapore Polytechnic (“SP”). In March 2020, we welcomed Joanna from SP’s School of Business to intern with ArcLab till Aug 2020. Alas, Singapore moved into #CircuitBreaker mode which meant Joanna had to #WorkfromHome after just 1 1/2 weeks.
Here’s Joanna’s story, and what she built to help organisations get staff ready for Remote Work Arrangements.
By now, majority would be familiar with the telecommuting lifestyle following the Circuit Breaker measures implemented by the Singapore government just last month. I was privileged enough to be able to intern from home as well. Being my first time working from home, it definitely took time adjusting to a different lifestyle and I thought I would share my experience so far…
Since we are on the topic of lifestyle changes, a significant change for me was not having to wake up as early as before Circuit Breaker to get ready for work. I think this is something many people can resonate with. Whether you are a working adult or an intern, showing up for work on time means having to wake up 1, 2 or even 3 hours earlier! You could be taking a longer time than necessary choosing an outfit for work, making breakfast, or even having to drop your kids off at school before rushing to work.
However, with the new Circuit Breaker measures in place, time taken to get ready for work online is significantly reduced. You no longer have to worry about getting your children to school on time. You can even be working in your PJs and enjoying that cup of coffee while answering to work emails. Working from home now means being able to get an extra hour of sleep! Of course, with every benefit there is a downside.
Working from home also taught me a lot about how productivity and discipline go hand in hand. With no one (manager, supervisor, or even colleagues) constantly keeping you in check, it can be hard saying no to distractions. It could be constantly wanting to crawl back into bed, or making rounds to your fridge looking for a quick bite. What I found helpful for me was writing down a to-do list for the week (and although this may not be the first time hearing such an advice, it really does help!) — and once I was done with a task, I would have the satisfaction of crossing it off the list.
With an increasing reliance on technology, I realised how we often take it for granted, because without it we would hardly be able to get any work done, let alone communicate with our friends and colleagues (even more so during this period). At ArcLab, we use Slack and Zoom to communicate with each other. We even have scheduled weekly Zoom call meetings to update each other on the progress of our work and how our weekend has been.
Speaking of technology…
Split Teams & Remote Work modules
A main project that I have been working on was creating modules for Nano Learning modules for ArcLab’s new “Split Teams & Remote Work” (or WFH) series. The series was created in line with the WFH measures implemented by companies, to help both employers and employees alike adapt to the new work arrangements. If you have yet to check it out or have a few minutes to spare in between your day, you can do so here!
With the hustle and bustle of work, it’s very rare that we find time to learn something new, or pick up a new hobby. We probably steer clear of this as well due to our perception that learning = lengthy = time consuming.
ArcLab Nano Learning modules (such as the WFH series) has thus been made targeted, specific and short so that you can slot learning into your busy schedule, without taking up too much of your time!
My WFH experience has been a fulfilling one so far, and I certainly hope yours has been too! Press on, the Circuit Breaker is almost coming to an end, and we would soon be a step closer to resuming our lives as normal.