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How Mobile Learning Improves ROI for Retail: 4 Key Ways to Capture Value


Assume you are a big box retailer preparing for the upcoming holiday season.  As you develop your strategy, understanding and quantifying the Return On Investment (ROI) associated with your technologies and services is essential in driving positive business outcomes.

Mobile Learning can offer retailers compelling ROI metrics to help improve operational efficiencies while enhancing the customer experience.  This ROI is best measured in Time To Proficiency (TTP), Employee Retention, and a host of additional benefits and savings.

Time To Proficiency

It takes an average of 8 days for a seasonal store associate to become proficient.  Access to training is the gating issue in achieving proficiency, with “the training room” creating an organizational bottleneck that delays access to learning and increases operational costs.

By deploying mobile learning solutions, retailers can bypass the training room and scale on-demand access via company-owned mobile devices.  This can equate to a 50% reduction in TTP.  For a retailer planning to hire 5,000 seasonal employees with weighted salaries of $150 per day, the cost savings associated with improved TTP is $3 million dollars per holiday season.

In and of itself, this single ROI metric is higher than the total annual cost required to deploy mobile learning technology across most retail organizations.

Employee Retention

Employee Retention rates are another critical performance metric for retailers.  In 2015, a Bloomberg report on the retail sector found:

  • For a $10/hour retail employee, turnover rates are approximately 5% monthly.
  • Under these assumptions, for a company with WalMart’s employee base, the cost of employee churn negatively impacts the business to the tune of $1 billion annually.
  • The cost of replacing an employee is roughly 16% of their annual wage.  This amounts to $3,500 per employee.

Mobile Learning offers a valuable tool for retaining employees.  With an ever-growing number of millennials entering the retail workforce, embracing a “mobile first” corporate culture helps improve engagement and job satisfaction.  Think for a minute about a young hire when they encounter a training room lined with antiquated computers featuring outdated content – and what that says about the forward-thinking nature of the brand.

In contrast, mobile learning promotes an environment where motivated employees can readily enhance their personal knowledge, cultivating a spirit of job ownership that increases retention levels and productivity.  Furthermore, many platforms offer the ability to track learner behavior, allowing retailers to better identify and offer growth opportunities to top performers.

When contemplating the ROI associated with improved employee retention, bear in mind that - for Walmart - a 0.5% improvement in retention rates equates to an annual savings of $50 million dollars.

Other ROI Categories

There are many other ROI benefits enabled by mobile learning.  One is training effectiveness, with substantial public data supporting claims of improved knowledge retention and learning engagement for mobile learners.

Another key area is Performance Support.  As training organizations leverage mobility, a direct ROI benefit can be applied to improved operational efficiency, especially when put into the context of providing real-time job aids for front line associates.  Imagine the impact of  an employee being able to quick access and view a video on how to better display a product could have on sales – not to mention pride of ownership.

Lastly - and perhaps most significantly - is the accumulated impact of these benefits on customer satisfaction and resulting sales.

Leveraging Existing Investment

Another major benefit of mobile learning is that it leverages existing IT infrastructure investment.  In most cases, the necessary mobile devices, WiFi networks, and supporting technologies necessary to support Mobile Learning are already deployed across most retail environments.  Additional IT investment is typically limited to enhanced Wide Area Network distribution and local content caching, both of which are affordable, reliable, and secure, and make the sharing and dissemination of content even easier.

The cost of content creation for mobile learning has also become increasingly affordable.  Today, virtually all major authoring platforms, learning content management systems, and learning management systems support mobility as part of their core offerings.  For older learning content systems, these improved technologies have significantly lowered the cost of content conversion.

The Bottom Line

The business case associated with mobile learning in retail is compelling.  The substantial ROI associated with improved time to proficiency and employee retention alone justifies the investment.  Additional benefits further improve the bottom line, enhance the customer experience, and free up capital to further enhance the store experience.

In today’s disruptive business environment, mobile learning offers retailers an effective tool for optimizing customer value and improving organizational efficiencies.

To get a better understanding of the value you could be losing, spend a few minutes with the Employee Turnover Leakage Model here.