retail mobilelearning perfect marriage
Customer Experience, Employee Engagement, Microlearning

Why m-learning and retail are the perfect marriage

Retail has changed. The fast tempo at which new collections are churned out, makes for a never-ending stream of new items, information and customers entering your store. Just 2 collections a year is no longer the standard. Retailers like Zara can turn out up to 104 (!) micro-seasons. That’s fast fashion for you.

Retail sales training however, has not really evolved with its counterpart. In most cases, it has remained a classroom training with some coaching on the job if the newbie is lucky.
The constant influx of new information for your staff on the floor, as well as the level of customer service you want to provide to your customers, makes you rethink this.

You’ve probably heard your employees talking about these trainings; they’ll be sitting in a classroom training for 2 days. Asking themselves who all these people are, hoping for tasty sandwiches during lunch (they never are) and most of all, wondering if they’ll still remember all this information next week.

We can see a couple pitfalls coming back when it comes to retail sales training:

  1. The training does not take the deskless workforce into account.
    It gives out information in bundles of paper ‘to look over at home’. Or it expects people to sit behind a computer at the back of house for hours, doing e-learnings.
  2. The training is not personalized to the specific employee and their role.
    A new employee needs a completely different approach than some of your more seasoned sales associates. One size fits all, is rarely applicable in fashion, why try it with training?
  3. The training is very intensive for a day… until it’s finished.
    Usually the classroom trainings are quite in-depth. There’s a trainer on hand for questions and the entire time, they’re emerged in knowledge and information about the brand, its history, its commitments… And then, just like that, it’s done.
    They get no follow ups on how they’re applying it in-store and can’t ask questions. (Like a Tinder-date, it disappears after 3 days, never to be heard from again.)
  4. The training does not evolve with the employee.
    Imagine having to do the same training every year and not having the option to tell your manager what you’d like to learn or which skill you’d like to hone. Contrary to popular belief, sales associates do want to learn and develop themselves.

Do not worry, we did not list up all these troubles just to have you realize the shortcomings your training is dealing with. Because there is a perfect solution for all of these pitfalls discussed above.

Mobile learning + Microlearning = Best of both worlds

Mobile learning and more specifically, microlearning are no new phenomena. It has become more and more obvious these are excellent solutions to many of the problems that come along with a stuffy classroom training.
The combination of both micro and mobile, plus offering training in small increments whenever the employee feels like it, is the fundament of mobile microlearning.
It just might be the best of both worlds.

Allow me, to tell you why.

 

Mobile microlearning is an ‘Anytime & Anywhere’-formula of learning

People take their mobile device everywhere these days. Your employees are not confined to desks for this mobile training and can choose for themselves, when and where to start the training.
Mobile microlearning makes this even more convenient by offering the information in bite-sized learning moments. This way it is even more inviting to start AND finish a new training.

The retail sales training can be as up-to-date as you want it to be

You can implement relevant viral videos in the training, and tailor the learning experience to the employee’s need and lifestyle.
This is especially relevant in retail, as you want everyone to stay up-to-date on their product knowledge and give the customers the best experience and service as possible.
For example: When the launch of a new shoe comes around the corner, it is so much more convenient to communicate all of the features and benefits of the new item through your mobile microlearning platform.

With the mobile microlearning option, you can bring all necessary information to your employees in a fun and engaging way on the moment they need it!

Mobile microlearning makes retaining information easier

By doing little pieces of the sales training over a longer period of time, retention of information will be much higher. With our built-in AI, our mobile micro learning app can track your employee’s progress and hurdles. In the retention moments, it will focus on the parts they have difficulties with. Not to forget, employees can choose to repeat a relevant learning moment if they spot their own knowledge gap.

They can do this by searching the app for tags with our search function, this will then generate the relevant learning moments, corresponding to the searched tags. These relevant learning moments will pop up, so they can be done once over.

Of course you as employer can check their progress as well and compliment when it goes great. This way, if necessary, you can provide support and motivation to those who may need it.

The training reaches all of your employees at the same time

Less classroom info sessions need to be arranged and less people need to be away from the store to follow this training (double win!). It can be launched to every employee, in every store, all around the world, at the same time. The future truly is now.
Goodbye to complicated schedules to figure out when you can send everybody to this new training but still need to have the store covered. Mobile microlearning brings the information to your employees and nobody has to go anywhere.
Another big pro is the fact that a newbie can start learning at the moment they join your company, no need to wait for a prescheduled classroom session. Immediate action!

Personalized mobile microlearning keeps the employees engaged

Sales associates can choose what to learn and focus on the subjects they’re interested in most. Afterwards they can finish the rest. It is all up to them to decide how they digest the available retail sales training. By offering small increments of training, you get rid of the usual “dread” employees have when confronted with new information to learn.
It makes it fun, engaging and even touches on the competitive side as you can motivate your employees to reach certain high scores before a predetermined date!

Mobile devices are everywhere and if you look at social media apps like Instagram, these offer bite sized chunks of information as well. You can only post 60 sec videos on Instagram, for example.
Mobile microlearning works the same way in that it offers short, digestible blocks of information.
Employees are much more inclined to start a learning moment, if they know it will be engaging, personalized and relevant. And to top it all off, it’ll only take them about 5 minutes a day!

New collections entering stores at a high pace, sales associates that are not always full-timers, but also students or seasonal workers and the increasingly knowledgeable customers.
These are just a few challenges of sales in retail today. Of course you need to be on the lookout for the most effective, engaging way of training and educating your employees.
With mobile microlearning, you can avoid the usual catches coming along with the old-school classroom trainings!

 

Source reference:
1. ‘5 Common Problems With Retail Sales Training And How To Fix Them’ – Yoobic, 1 August 2019
2. ‘6 Key Benefits to Mobile Learning’ – Suresh DN, 29 August 2018
3. ‘5 Training challenges and e-learning solutions for the Retail Industry’ – CommLab India Bloggers, 10 May 2018
4. ‘7 awesome advangatges of Mobile Learning’ – John Laskaris 17 January 2018
5. ‘What the advantages and disadvantages of mobile learning are’ – Priyanka Gautam, 23 November 2018

Woman using tablet and holding Black Friday shopping bag while standing on the stairs with the mall background
Customer Experience, Thought Leadership

Will Black Friday revive European retail?

Black Friday is here. And for retailers across Europe this US-originated shopping extravaganza is set to provide a vital indicator of what 2019’s Holiday Season has in store for us.

So why does the day after Thanksgiving, a holiday that has no resonance for us Europeans, drive so much of our retail strategy? Are we just jumping on the bandwagon in an attempt to boost sales, or is there some method behind the Black Friday madness?

 

Almost 70 years of Black Friday tradition

Black Friday originated all the way back in 1952 in the States, as American shopkeepers infamously marked the 4th Friday in November as the day that their books turned black (positive) from red (negative).

So why has it taken European retailers so long to also promote Black Friday as the start of the holiday shopping season?

The UK first popularized Black Friday just 5 short years ago. PWC’s report this week explores retailers’ original reluctance:

When it was first popularized in the UK, there were reports of crowds storming stores and websites crashing under the weight of traffic as shoppers rushed to bag the best deals. But some retailers were concerned that this cannibalized higher margin, full priced sales in the run up to Christmas.’

 

Europe takes just 5 years to catch up

Despite this reluctance, 5 years has been all it has taken for our European sales figures from this event to have almost caught up with our American counterparts. As shown by Adobe Insight’s 2019 report:

Holiday spending in Europe will grow 10% this year [2019] , just below the US estimate of 11%. However, Black Friday itself has grown 124% over the past four years.’

 

UK, Germany & France dominate Black Friday sales

So where in Europe is Black Friday having the biggest impact? According to the same report for 2019:

‘Most money in Europe will be spent in the United Kingdom and Germany, who will both grow 10 percent to 27.1 billion euros and 22.9 billion euros respectively. Holiday sales in France are forecast to grow 11 percent to 14.3 billion euros.’

And Black Friday sales have particularly grown in the Nordic Countries, where sales have increased by 187% since 2013 compared to 66% elsewhere in Europe.

 

What does Black Friday 2019 have in store?

It will be exciting to see if Black Friday tips the scales in Benelux this year to become the biggest shopping day across the whole of Europe. Given how quickly Black Friday has taken off, one year could be all that it takes.

So, like it or loathe it, our bet is that your store will have a Black Friday promotional strategy in full swing this weekend. These figures have demonstrated that it is indeed more than just hype, or us jumping on the American bandwagon.

Ultimately, all that really matters is customer experience and expectations. And with our shoppers being hit with Black Friday adverts over the last weeks, smart retailers will be set to capitalize on that.

I can already hear the cash registers ringing. May the holiday shopping season commence…

Women and shopping
Customer Experience, Thought Leadership

Undifferentiated retail won’t survive

Nike made a big statement last week by telling investors that it is changing its business model to move away from ‘mediocre’ retailers. Is this another hard blow for brick and mortar retailers in the wake of the digital age?

In a word, no.

Before we all start to despair, yet again, at the future of physical stores, I want to draw our attention to the keyword in Nike’s statement. And that word is:

Mediocre.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal’s article, ‘Nike plans to continue working closely with 40 partners, ranging from brick-and-mortar standbys like Foot Locker Inc. and Nordstrom Inc. to newer partners like Amazon (…) on new apps and in-store experiences.’

So yes, Nike is pushing its digital selling strategy. But, vitally, not at the expense of brick and mortar retailers. What it is really doing is recognising the importance of in-store experiences, and being more selective by no longer partnering with ‘undifferentiated, mediocre’ retailers.

Which is fine right? Because who amongst us would want to be described as ‘mediocre’ anyway?

So how can we ensure that we are never described in this way?

How to avoid mediocrity by putting customers first

As Nike and so many other retail giants are doing, we have to focus everything on customer experience.

As I reported last week, 82% of millennials still prefer to shop in store because of the experience. So the first, fundamental action item is to re-assess your associates’ training and knowledge to ensure that it exceeds your shoppers’ expectations.

The second step? Mystery shopping and customer feedback 

We may think that we know how our stores are operating. Our associate training program may be second to none. Our sales may be through the roof. But the only way to ever be certain is to see your business through your customers’ eyes with a network of professional, unbiased evaluators.

Through hiring a mystery shopping company, you are able to identify any missed opportunities and get the feedback needed to drive change across your stores.

You can also supplement this by asking your real customers for feedback through short questionnaires or pop up surveys on your website and social channels.

Which brings me onto the third step.

Data and business insights

The real benefit of the last decade’s surge of technological innovations is the ability to track, analyse and optimise all of your business data. Beyond sales, stock and the bottom line, we need to track every element of operations- from each associate’s skill levels and the insights gathered by evaluators through to supply chain logistics and footfall. So let’s embrace the technology and platforms that enable us to do that.

This data is what really empowers us to innovate and drive exceptional customer experience. Combined with a motivated and high performing team, an openness to change, and a stand out store design, this can ensure that we avoid mediocrity, no matter what sector we are in and what goods we are selling.

So, don’t be disheartened by the headlines. Be inspired about how the change brought about by eCommerce is actually driving better customer experience in our stores. We can all be a part of this, and part of the future of retail, as long as we are smart about it.

Because, let’s face it, none of us were born to be mediocre.