February 2, 2001, 12:00 AM

Taking retail training to the web

A vendor of web-based training systems for retailers just got a new round of financing--proving the web is changing everything a retailer does.

If anyone needs further evidence that the Internet is affecting every aspect of a retail operation, they need look no further than KnowYourStuff.com. The Morristown, N.J.-based company produces web-based training systems for retail sales personnel and just received a round of funding from Internet.com Venture Partners III. “There are so many retail doors, it’s impossible to go through all of them,” says Mark Cooper, executive vice president of business development. “It’s difficult for manufacturers’ representatives to get to all the salespeople.”

KnowYourStuff.com maintains web sites and develops content for manufacturers and retailers who need to train sales associates. Manufacturers post information about their products and their uses. Sales personnel access the site from the retail location, go through the tutorial then answer questions that allow their employers to assess their level of knowledge about a product. “It’s tough to schedule training because it’s hard to take people off the sales floor,” Cooper says. “With this system, if the floor is dead, the manager can send a salesperson to the computer to take training.”

KnowYourStuff.com was founded in late 1998 by Woody Nash, who owned a small footwear manufacturing company. “He had a hard time getting out to the sales personnel,” Cooper says.

The company targets sporting goods and consumer electronics retailers. Cooper estimates that 75% of KnowYourStuff’s target locations will have Internet-enabled computers on site by the end of this year. Retailers using the system so far include REI, The Athlete’s Foot, Play It Again Sports and FutureShop.

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