How to use microlearning to tackle top retail challenges

Posted on Sep 21, 2017

Learning strategies


Store employees are the unsung heroes of retail, the secret weapon of any brand looking to achieve great sales, increased profits and a brilliant customer experience in an era of some major challenges.

But they need help.  

Traditional training can only go so far in today’s retail environment.  So, many of the world’s most successful retailers are turning to microlearning.  In this post, I’ll be explaining why.

Retail – the big challenges

Super-busy all the time; new products, prices and promotions to know about; omnichannel knowledge to be on top of; excellent customer service; knowledgeable customers with high expectations to deal with, preferably with instant, accurate answers; health & safety  policies to remember and act on; brand values to put into practice….the list of required skills and knowledge goes on and on. 

Welcome to a day in the life of a retail associate.

And there’s more, because once they’ve mastered all of this, guess what? It all gets updated and they must learn everything again, repeatedly, on a loop.

We looked in greater depth at six of the main challenges facing retail in a previous blog, focusing on topics such as disjointed customer experience, underperformance in omnichannel and decaying customer loyalty.

Sadly, despite all the evidence offered up by surveys and what common sense tells us about customer expectations, some retail organisations are yet to grasp the fact that their frontline staff are key to meeting these challenges.

Maybe a few statistics will help to convince them:

93% of consumers are more likely to buy if they have a positive customer experience

91% of customers want a fast and accurate response to their query

78% of customers rate sales associates with a deep knowledge of the product range as the biggest factor in creating a positive shopping experience


71% of shoppers say retail store associates are not knowledgeable or helpful.

This disconnect can only be overcome by recognising the importance of frontline staff and giving them training and support that works.

Microlearning turns retail heroes into super-heroes

The modern worker is overwhelmed and it’s in retail where the overload is most stark. Retail staff are right in the firing line of all the main challenges and yet their needs aren’t being met.

Training should be continuous, with knowledge available all the time, adaptable and relevant to each employee’s needs. With associates always on the move, the learning also has to be mobile. Store employees require the most up-to-date knowledge now.

Microlearning is the answer.

It provides knowledge-on-demand, something that customers expect. Moreover, it’s what store employees expect, too. The lack of support currently on offer is one of the reasons for the high turnover levels.

In a nutshell, microlearning gets the training to everyone that needs it, wherever they are, on a continuous basis.  This ability to learn at anytime, anywhere is critical for retail staff in an environment that’s going to become even more challenging and fast-paced in the years ahead.

And the best part? It limits time spent away from the shop floor.

So, if microlearning is the answer, the question must be: Why aren’t more retail organisations using it?

There’s more on the science behind microlearning in our special guide.

Download: Top 3 ways to drive loyalty, sales and profit in retail

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