4 reasons why mobile is perfect for retail training

Erin McGee, 4 min read

A few weeks ago, I needed to go to the chemist to buy a few skincare products.

I had a vague idea of what I was looking for but hadn’t chosen a particular brand or product yet. Without thinking twice, I walked into the store, found the right aisle, stared at the wall of red and yellow ‘50% off SALE’ tickets… And then I called the shop assistant over to ask a few questions about the products.


Just kidding. Don’t be ridiculous.

I took my phone from my pocket and opened up the chemist’s website, scrolled through their product pages, read a few descriptions and chose my products.

This process has become a force of habit for me. More often than not, the reason behind in-store purchases has little to do with my customer experience and a lot to do with time constraints and convenience.

If your shopping experience sounds anything like mine – you’re not alone. According to research by Tulip Retail, 83% of shoppers believe they’re more knowledgeable than retail store associates.

That is an incredibly high figure considering that the purpose of store associates is to assist customers with their shopping needs.

Insights from the report are being interpreted one of two ways:

  1. Brick-and-mortar retail is doomed
  2. There is a HUGE opportunity for differentiating customer experience in retail through epic training
    We’re backing option 2.

Why? Because with the sheer amount of information consumers have to wade through, providing knowledgeable, personalised customer service will be a major point of differentiation for successful companies.

The report also suggested that the presence of mobile devices in the sales process was a positive experience. For example, 72% of shoppers that dealt with a store associate who uses a mobile device to provide things like product information, credit card checkout, and inventory look-up, said it resulted in a better shopping experience.

If customers understand that mobile is integral to the retail experience – shouldn’t retail companies, too?

Ali Asaria, CEO of Tulip Retail stated in a press release:

"There's also some really good news for retailers that our survey uncovered – knowledgeable store associates are valued by shoppers, and those empowered with mobile technology are delivering better shopping experiences. Bottom line, investing in store associates needs to be a high priority. With the right tools, they can become beacons of knowledge, trusted advisors and drive sales."

Summed up, the way toward delivering better customer experience is more knowledge. And investing in mobile training is a powerful way to boost store associates’ knowledge.

4 reasons why mobile is perfect for retail training

1. Gen Z dominate the retail workforce

Mobile. It’s the medium that most retail staff (read: Gen Z) are comfortable with.

We’re all used to flicking between Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, constantly and seamlessly, absorbing information all the while. We can learn almost anything from the first page of a Google search.

So, why would retail staff want to log onto a clunky LMS out the back to do their training?

They wouldn’t (and they don’t).

And since being connected by mobile is second nature - social learning and gamification elements like team leaderboards, prizes, and the ability to achieve mastery can be incorporated into mobile training to help motivate staff to learn.

Generation Z

2. Mobile easily accommodates modern (and practical) learning techniques

Most stores have dozens, if not hundreds of products with unique features and characteristics. Block product training might seem like an effective method of getting training material to a large group of people at once, however, in reality, the majority of what’s taught will be forgotten within a matter of days.

Because of the on-demand nature of mobile training, it’s the perfect platform for utilising techniques like microlearning, active recall and spaced repetition.

Additionally, content is accessible from anywhere – perfect for retail staff that work staggered, infrequent shifts and therefore aren’t constantly refreshing their knowledge on the job.

3. New product information can be distributed quickly

Retail environments are notorious for fast-moving stock, product updates and new features. To bring the most value to the customer, staff need to stay on top of all of the new information.

If learning content isn’t updated regularly to reflect these changes, staff members could be selling out of date information - damaging the brand and frustrating the customer.

And if research has found that most office workers have 1% of their work week to learn (24 minutes), imagine how little time that translates to for a retail worker doing two shifts a week?

6 minutes a week.

...I'll just leave that there.

4. Mobile training keeps staff on the floor

I had a short stint as a retail worker at a major shoe store in Canada on a gap year a few years back.

On my first few shifts, I spent the majority of my time in the stockroom in the basement doing training on an ancient LMS. About two weeks later (I’d done 5 or so shifts by this point) my manager pulled me aside to mention that I hadn’t made enough sales and that I needed to ‘pick up my game’.

I was confused and incredibly frustrated. Of course I hadn’t been making sales – I’d been sitting in the basement on the dinosaur PC clicking through modules all night.

In a perfect world, my manager would have given me an app to download on my phone when I was hired. Then, I would have been sent a couple of questions a day to get the ball rolling on my training. And naturally, I’d have been on the floor helping customers and (gasp) making sales.

In a nutshell: knowledgeable employees make for the best brand ambassadors

When staff know (and care) about the products they’re selling, they’re the brand's most valuable asset. Investing in employees makes them more personally invested in the company, and this creates a more enjoyable environment for the customers.

To learn more about how mobile training has helped retail team members increase sales by up to 40% head over to our Winning Group case study!

Erin McGee

Erin McGee

Erin is an ever-trusty wordsmith and resident spreader of good vibes. You'll find her chatting up a storm in Mandarin, yelling kiai's at jujitsu and eating dark chocolate at 2pm sharp.

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