case study

Digital Transformation Sparks Retail Learning Provider's Business Impact

4 min read

Encumbered by an ineffective software vendor and an underperforming e-learning platform, a well established retail company faced a declining user experience that risked their expansion into the retail industry. Spark Equation worked with company leadership on a multi-dimensional transformation that restored competitive advantage, instilled innovative engineering systems and implemented mature project management practices.

at a glance


  • Restored Business Confidence
  • Tripled Business Impact &  Revenue
  • Architecture Instilled
  • Adopted Effective Engineering Systems & Solutions
  • Implemented Mature Project Management
  • Increased Competitive Advantage


  • Business Platform Development
  • DevOps
  • Legacy Re-Engineering
  • Cloud-Native
  • Architecture

Company overview

Founded in 1989, Progress Retail is providing a one-stop-shop for retail teams and leadership to drive performance through learning. For thirty years, Progress Retail has pioneered transformative in-person retail training that enables every member of a client’s retail team to connect deeply with themselves, their career, their company, and their customers. Their mission is as much about personal development as it is about professional development. In 2017, the business expanded their retail curriculum and innovative tools to the cloud, providing access to all members of a retail organization.

The situation

It became immediately evident that Progress Retail’s external software vendor wasn’t proficient in implementing engineering systems and software solutions. The initial platform caused a quality mismatch between the in-person retail training and the e-learning platform.

The store manager hub began experiencing gaps along several dimensions of their platform, primarily in stability, quality, architecture, and delivery model. The original structure of their IT system needed to be radically reformed to sustain a high-performance e-learning platform that allowed their users to engage with business tools, educational content, authoring content, and undergo expanding change.

In their attempt to solve this complex and critical issue, Progress Retail reached out to Spark Equation as an external service provider to mold, stabilize, and transform their engineering systems.

The solution

Upon investigation, the Spark Equation team carried out the procedure in the most comprehensive way and resolved the root cause of the low performance. Within months, Spark Equation had stabilized the platform and proceeded to improve all functions that were previously hindering development. Spark teams avoided the possibility of a platform collapse and gradually continued transferring the platform from its unstable foundation to a new and improved high-performance engine able to sustain any future iterations.

Spark Equation conducted a thorough cost-benefit analysis, risk analysis, and platform diagnostics to develop a roadmap and phase structure. This ensured all issues discovered were prioritized and the improvements were deployed when they were needed most.

The result

Spark Equation created tangible value through re-engineering and project management. Progress Retail is now live in 3 countries and has tripled their client profiles on the e-learning platform. They now offer 4 central educational systems that are based on the company’s role structure and personalized store systems. Progress Retail can now provide an in-person training experience through the tools, coaching, and communication of their newly re-engineered online platform. Future iterations will allow users to integrate HR tools, point-of-sale, and additional performance tools for personal and professional growth.

Stable, effective, and efficient software infrastructures gave Progress Retail the confidence to provide their clients with a tailored approach and grow their company's impact.


"My favorite part of the project was seeing the increased stability, quality, predictable results, increased sales and the level of transparency, it was just a breath of fresh air"

- Ray Riley, Progress Retail CEO

Our approach Our clients' success is our success


Transparency is a key value at Spark Equation. It aligns with our results-driven principle to always deliver economic benefit to our clients.

To ensure we maintain high levels of communication and transparency, our collaboration entailed daily detailed reporting of development, features, issues, and functionality to keep deployment dates on schedule for new releases.

Technologies used:



"It was an eye-opening experience to the level of transparency and confidence in something getting done. The Spark team was very, very efficient and thorough at what they do, result delivery."


  Ray Riley, Progress Retail CEO


Choosing the right software vendor is just as crucial to the success of your company as putting a firm marketing plan in place. After all, software and systems engineering play a significant role in your efficiency and ability to provide clients, partners, and users with the best information, services, and user experiences. It is even more important to select the right software vendor when you are a small to midsize company. Unless you have a technical co-founder or an insightful chief architect, there is a high level of error when choosing a software company. Many like Progress Retail, who've invested in a software project, have had the unfortunate experience of dealing with end-product software that simply doesn't work.
Although the uncertainty is high in finding a trusted engineering company, Progress Retail trusted Spark Equation to take on their complex project to reset it, transform it, and sustain it.

Building Software That Works