4 ways microlearning is transforming retail

Posted on: February 26, 2024By: Patrick Icasas

More and more retailers are adopting microlearning as a way to train their shop assistants, and for good reason. This approach to training uses a series of short, focused lessons that are much more digestible, engaging and schedule-friendly than traditional hours-long corporate training seminars. 

But effective microlearning is more than bite-sized training. It should also fit naturally into the everyday workflow. It should utilise science-backed approaches to foster engagement and retention. And it should be personalised to each employee so they can build on their knowledge and skills and gain confidence in their role.  

Shop Assistant Learning In The Flow Of Work

Picture it: shop assistants can access microlearning right after they clock in every shift. The training session serves up reinforcement questions tightly focused on topics that are critical to performing well in their jobs. The whole session takes minutes, then they’re ready to hit the floor confident that they’ll do the right things in the right moments.

Retailers looking to engage their staff and drive retention, boost sales and improve customer experiences need to be using microlearning. Read on to learn why.  

1. Microlearning increases engagement, making training a daily habit

Retailers pay a fortune for training that no one engages with. Shop assistants can struggle to stay focused during extended training sessions, and who can blame them? They’re getting hours of information in one go, and expected to remember all of it. 

Contrast this with microlearning, where each lesson is tightly focused and personalised to achieve a specific outcome. The learner knows exactly what they’ll be getting out of each session, and are thus more motivated to participate. Plus, they’re far more likely to pay attention through a five-minute module versus a 50-minute one. 

And instead of dry lectures or PowerPoint slides, microlearning employs different media such as videos, text, images, infographics and quizzes. This keeps the training fresh and interesting, while also catering to people with different learning preferences.

Another big component of effective microlearning is gamification. Gamifying the training can increase engagement, too. Points and leaderboards can promote healthy competition between staff, while achievements or rewards can encourage shop assistants and managers to make microlearning a daily habit.

2. Microlearning doesn’t disrupt the shift schedule, or take shop assistants off the floor

Schedules in retail are as fragile and delicate as a house of cards. Whenever a new mandatory training program is deployed, it disrupts this balance and throws operations off for days. Shift schedules have to be rearranged, off days are cancelled and traded, and stress levels go through the roof. And that’s for one training session.

Microlearning, on the other hand, doesn’t disrupt the schedule. Training is completed in minutes a day, in the flow of work. And additional as-needed material is on hand for quick refreshers when shop assistants need it, further reducing disruptions. Even substantial training like onboarding or cross-training can be done in smaller bite-sized modules, getting shop assistants on the floor faster.

And if space or device availability is an issue, microlearning can easily be done on mobile devices—even personal devices if retailers employ a BYOD (bring your own device) program

3. Microlearning can coordinate with product launches or other key events

Key events like product launches are infinitely more successful when shop assistants are in-the-know and properly trained. Fortunately, that’s where microtraining excels.

In the case of microlearning to support a product launch, information can be spread across different modules, each focusing on a single aspect of the product. These modules can then be deployed to shop assistants within their daily training on a staggered schedule, timed to culminate shortly before the official launch. This gives team members the chance to digest the information, get reinforced on the key information and then solidify their knowledge as  launch day approaches. Microlearning also allows different departments or teams to receive customised training to ensure all employees know what they need to do to support the launch. 

Looking for more?

Get our full Ultimate Guide to Microlearning to learn how to build an effective microlearning strategy that unlocks measurable business value.

4. Microlearning unlocks valuable metrics

How do you measure the success of traditional training approaches? Attendance? Completion? Learner comments? You can try testing, but test scores only provide limited insight, because if an employee scores low, you can’t really tell why.

With microlearning, you can tell. In addition to showing you completion rates and scores, microlearning captures valuable data that can gauge confidence levels or flag knowledge gaps for regions, stores or individual shop assistants. Supervisors will be able to see which people need additional support, and on which topics. Head office will be able to identify training that needs to be adapted or improved. And, they’ll see these critical insights much faster. 

Microlearning is changing retail

At this point, the advantages of microlearning should be pretty clear: more engaged employees, better knowledge retention and higher-quality data and analytics. If you or your organisation aren’t yet using microlearning, it’s time for a change. 

As you start your search for a microlearning-equipped learning management system, consider platforms that leverage gamification, artificial intelligence, social tools and mobile learning capabilities. These tools will help you build and deploy a retail training program that can effectively train your entire frontline workforce—no matter how many locations you have.

Patrick Icasas

Patrick Icasas is a freelance writer covering tech, manufacturing, HR and e-commerce, with occasional forays into CPG and fiction writing.