R.M.Williams case study highlights

We caught up with Kirsty James, Head of Training & Development - Commercial, to unpack the retail training strategy undertaken by R.M.Williams that sets them apart from their competitors.
Kirsty James from R.M.Williams

This is the quick read version! You can click here to read the entire R.W.Williams case study.


Kirsty's journey began with R.M.Williams in 1996 as a 19-year-old, “I started as the office junior, and then I was lucky enough to progress through various roles in my journey at R.M.Williams. We only had 13 company stores when I started.”

From retail sales and operations to wholesale, e-commerce and manufacturing, Kirsty’s experienced a wide variety of roles at R.M.Williams.

“I’ve learnt the ropes of R.M. Williams before coming into this role, which now allows me to tie it all up and tell the story, hopefully, in an authentic way”. Now, 27 years on & 60 stores later, Kirsty is working in her dream role, developing the team & sharing her love for the R.M. Williams brand. “You don't stay somewhere for that long unless you’re passionate about it”.

The problem

About five years ago, R.M.Williams’ retail network was getting bigger and bigger. Initially, the business went with an alternative training provider who offered a suite of thousands of existing courses and ticked the box for an LMS and basic build tool. It provided the business with an information source rather than a training platform that influenced behaviour change.

Kirsty sent a survey to the existing team & users, asking for feedback on what they liked about the current training platform & what frustrated them. This feedback helped the business determine they were searching for something more engaging and interactive that would drive a positive behaviour change.

“It's all well and good to ask the team to complete the training, but if you can't see any change at the end or if people aren't engaged in it, then it's a complete waste of everyone’s time.”

The solution

Kirsty thoroughly researched the market, having several demonstrations and conversations with five or six training providers.

“We did our due diligence, but when I saw RedSeed, I knew that it was going to tick all the boxes that we needed at this point in time. Driving behaviour change to ensure the customer is our number one focus always, was our priority!"

Kirsty expressed, “What I love about RedSeed is our ability to build customer-focused courses that are 100% bespoke to R.M.Williams. The ability to make the courses a lot more interactive with short videos and a lot less text allows us to accommodate the various learning styles of the diverse employee base within the business” This was fundamental in encouraging behaviour change and creating a learning culture within R.M.Williams.

The second priority was finding a simple, less overwhelming onboarding program. “The training pathways that RedSeed offer was another one that really spoke to us” Kirsty uses RedSeed’s learning pathways to provide a clear order of courses that no longer overwhelms new hires but provides a much more positive training experience.

The third priority was to find a retail sales training solution built for Australia and New Zealand. “Out of 60 stores, all but three of them are currently in Australia and New Zealand.” Working with RedSeed provided Kirsty with a retail sales programme filmed with ANZ actors and tailored to customer preferences in those regions.

The challenges

It was essential for R.M.Williams that RedSeed training wasn’t seen as simply a replacement to their previous online training but as a new and elevated platform that provided personal development and built a learning culture within the business.

Like any new system, the biggest challenge is getting buy-in across the business, which has to be driven from the top down.

“From a retail perspective, we gathered all our store managers together across three different workshops and facilitated face-to-face learning on the importance of leadership and building a learning culture. We completed a couple of the leadership courses together and went through the entire platform, then discussed any barriers to success that our Store Managers envisaged and found solutions as a group. They were then able to confidently go back to their teams and get them excited about what was coming.”

The results and highlights

Although it’s early days for results, Kirsty is excited about the initial wins across the business! “Our supply chain is sitting at around 80% energy, which blows me away given that they are out on the front line with no technology in front of them and have to make time to find another space to do their learning”.

As for retail, initial feedback has been rewarding. “Feedback that I've received saying how easy the Learning Library is to use and how interactive and engaging the content is has been really positive. In fact, we are getting numerous requests for more bespoke courses, which we are currently working on.”

“We are only a few months since launch, but so far, there is an interesting correlation between the direction each store’s KPIs are heading month on month versus their RedSeed energy levels. I love that we can look at energy from an individual store point of view and compare them back to their KPI results.”

The future

Looking into the future, a core focus of R.M.Williams’ is to build great leaders. In particular, leaders who understand the importance of coaching & developing their people.

Kirsty says, “We want to build leaders that have regular coaching conversations with their teams - What did you learn today? How are we going to practise that? What worked well? How can we do this differently? Leadership is a constant conversation, and building leaders that not only role model expected behaviours but those that empower their team and facilitate learning, rather than telling, is our number one.”

Kirsty’s attitude & drive towards developing the people of R.M.Williams is certainly impressive. She says, “We've got some ambitious targets that we're striving for. If I could do it all today, I would; there's so much I want to do, but I want to get it right.”

If you’d like to read the full length R.W.Williams case study click here.

Published by:
Alice Mullins
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