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  • lisaallanson

M-learning in the changing retail landscape

It’s no surprise that the retail landscape is changing. The threat of growing online competition is one thing, but even for brick and mortar stores the pace of new product development, improved information, shorter product life cycles, and faster fashion trends, has brought its own challenges. Being up-to-date, in the know, and on top of continually evolving product and customer profiles, requires increased agility and just–in-time operational solutions.

When it comes to how well retail has been able to respond to these challenges from an employee training perspective, the evolution of learning and development initiatives has not kept up with the pace of change. Retail training has traditionally been ‘clunky’ i.e. predominantly utilising a face-to-face, classroom approach to deliver information that was needed yesterday. This approach has been sub-standard on a number of levels:

1. Face-to-face training doesn’t take the deskless workforce into account. Information is distributed in paper format and relies on employees to ‘read this at home’, where it is either promptly discarded or unintentionally forgotten about. Even if the employee does take some of the learning on board, the lack of reinforcement and accessibility often translates into a short burst of new skills followed by a quick return to old habits and behaviours.

2. The training is not personalized to individual employees and their roles. To maximise the cost effectiveness of classroom training it is important that the maximum number of employees attend, often with little regard to functional role or relevance of the learning. Aside from creating disengaged employees, this ‘one size fits all’ approach also doesn’t cater to individual skill levels. The result is that some employees feel completely out of their depth, while others are left unchallenged and unmotivated.

3. The training is intense… until it’s finished. Classroom training is intense while it’s happening. It allows employees to fully dive in and immerse themselves in the learning while they are away from the distraction of work, and while there is a facilitator on hand to keep things on track. However, at the end of the day, everyone goes home. Minus the controlled environment, and when ‘on-the-job’ reality kicks in, much of what has been learned is lost. Employees can no longer reconcile use of new skills in an environment that continually tests their applicability. Add to this the lack of check-ins and follow up, the learning doesn't stick.

So, what can you do about it? Enter the world of M-learning – mobile, micro-learning. M-learning offers bite sized pieces of just-in-time content, delivered on a mobile device. It’s fast, engaging, user-centric, and best of all delivers real learning traction. Let’s have a closer look at why we love this approach so much and how our platform partners MobieTrain are breaking new ground in the retail landscape.

Mobile micro-learning is an ‘anytime & anywhere’ learning formula Employees take their mobile devices everywhere, meaning they can participate in training anywhere – while using public transport, during a break at work, waiting at the doctors office, it doesn’t matter. This gives employees choices around their learning and they can select when and where to start training. The can also select how much they do in a learning moment (typically anything up to five minutes at a time).

It removes the tyranny of distance and cuts across traditional geographic constraints. Say goodbye to the old days of expensive hotels, airfares, and conference venues to bring geographically dispersed groups of employees together. Mobile, micro-learning brings information to everyone at the same time, with zero travel, accommodation or facilitation costs. The result is seamless and efficient execution to deliver information to the masses as needed.

Learning that sticks Because the learning is delivered in short, digestible bursts, with gamification and sensory stimuli built in, it keeps employees engaged and motivated. Employees can also track progress, re-take topic tests, compete against each other, and access new skills in an instant. Built in tips and tricks add to the user experience, reinforcing new skills and behaviours and keeping the content fresh.

It’s personal Employees can choose what they want or need to learn, and can structure their learning around what they are interested in. For example a new employee may be interested in on-boarding and company structure/history before they move on to customer experience training, where as a seasoned sales person may be more interested in how to drive customer advocacy in the business. And while some training may be mandatory for certain roles, the employee still has control over when and what they learn within the learning framework. Control provides engagement, and engagement drives learning application.

It’s just-in-time, in the moment and relevant There’s nothing worse than new product training that’s completed six months post launch. Employees need to be up to speed and ready to hit the ground running i.e. as soon as customers begin asking questions. With mobile, learning micro-leaning you can upload new product videos, cheat sheets, visual aids, anything that will help employees quickly understand how to sell it. It takes no longer to load a new product than it takes to post a picture to Instagram. How’s that for mind-blowing?

You can keep track too! Ok. Yes, employees love this way of learning but what's it in for you? Well, like any operational activity in your business you will have data and insights at your fingertips, 24/7. You can log into the platform at any time to access real time information on how your employees are going – who’s done what, what they scored, ongoing competency gaps etc. The back end reporting is as good as the front end user experience.

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