Using The iPad For Retail Training

Lower cost investments, advances in technology and an increasing number of new products are bringing more retail support devices to the sales floor.  One of them is mobile, which retailers have been reviewing as part of IT for some time now. The iPad arguably has become one of the fastest growing platforms for retailers and solution providers, due to its stability and ease of use, and popularity with app developers.

One of the most beneficial elements of using an iPad is allowing retailers to adapt the technology cost-efficiently. Without much training or hiring additional staff, companies can boost their human capital on a budget.  Customized retail apps that work in tandem with existing software and hardware can be created quickly. Retailers can work with a service provider to develop unique apps that provide associates with the exact training they need.

There’s lots of buzz around using the iPad for mobile POS and placing online orders for customers while in-store ― but much less is being said about what an amazing training and field communications tool the iPad can be. Some of the benefits wrapped around the iPad for training and field communications are:


1. Training comes out of the backroom

Associates once went to the backroom to conduct training on a networked desktop computer.  Later, laptops and even cash registers had the technology to train staff.  But both methods took time away from the selling floor. With the iPad, training can take place right on the selling floor, allowing associates to remain fully accessible when needed. Because an iPad is small, it can be put away quickly and easily. No longer will associates be watching videos in the backroom while they should be on the sales floor impacting coverage and sales. 

2. Interactive bookmarks keep track of progress

Today’s world is all about multi-tasking, and running a store is no different. To maximize time and sales, associates need to have the flexibility to work with customers, yet be productive during slower hours of the day. With the iPad’s interactive bookmarks, associates can jump out of training mode to help customers, then, with an immediate start, resume from where they left off. 

3. Impact of training correlates to business results

Retailers can track an associate’s training participation and allow field managers to drive performance by having full visibility of their team’s results.  These results can be obtained from anywhere in the world, at any time of the day, in real time.  Adjustments to training can be made efficiently based on region or general training results. 

4. High-quality video and audio

An iPad will provide a rich media experience that gives associates selling support by providing instant access to product information and specs. There’s no need for adding sound cards or worrying about how video content will play.  Photos, videos, reviews and other information can be obtained for a customer quickly, easily, and at a low cost.

5. Low-bandwidth training

Keeping the multimedia content local allows for a great user experience, with almost no impact on bandwidth. Apple designed the iOS around the bandwidth constraints of mobile environments. The design also benefits multi-unit retail chains that deal with the similarly limited bandwidth connections for credit card authorizations, register polling, internal email and more mission critical operations.

6. On-floor skill building activities

“Learning while doing” is a time tested method for acquiring a broad range of skills. The iPad allows associates to take their training where the action is and get the most from that training experience, with immediate interaction and real time learning. Conversely, recreating an on-floor activity for training in the back room just isn’t the same. 

7. Dual-purpose product training for consumers

Creating amazing product knowledge programs that can be shared with consumers gives your associates another tool to help them explain visually the value in your products. This goes back, in part, to the iPad’s ability to provide a rich media experience.  As most customers have a smartphone, they also have access to in-store comparison shopping. An associate with an iPad has a tool for preempting mobile comparison shopping, and can often prevent a lost sale as well as sell-up.

As more shoppers are raised on technologies such as Google, iPads and smartphones, retailers need to become savvier about incorporating iPads into retail training.  The cost, level of customization and familiarity most associates have with an iPad makes it one the most important tools for ensuring top level sales training and customer experience.

David Harouche is Founder and President of Multimedia Plus. Harouche has been developing innovative, technology-driven programs for a broad range of clients for more than 15 years. He has helped make Multimedia Plus the foremost provider of learning and communications solutions, and a resource for market intelligence.

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