The ROI of Tablet-based Store Training and Communications
Driving the KPIs That Justify Investment In Enterprise-wide Tablet Solutions
It’s no secret that our industry is being propelled by tech-savvy consumers who demand hyper-personalized offers, seamless cross-channel shopping, and quick access to pricing, well-informed associates and so much more.
In-store, this means arming on-floor sales associates with the digital devices that allow consumers’ demanding expectations to be met on-the-spot. It means pairing customer/associate interactions with digital solutions that create stellar in-store customer experiences and increase sales as well as lifetime customer value.
The multi-functional tablet helps enhance personalized, cross-channel selling in many ways – including the ability to keep sales associates on the selling floor with app-based, non-streaming video training and communications. Daily/weekly training and knowledge scoring allow retailers to create a steady stream of well-informed “brand ambassadors,” regardless of high employee turnover. New and seasoned associates are educated continually not just once a year through expensive and ultimately ineffective “Train the Trainer” programs. Regional, district and local store operations managers instantly identify their strongest associates, and where others may need further training.
The result is a network of up-to-the-minute, enterprise-wide training and communications that directly impact the customer experience. Increased customer satisfaction and experiences, units per transaction, visual merchandising and product knowledge all play a role in increasing sales.
While the business advantages of mobile sales associates are numerous, many brick-and-mortar retailers – especially those with dozens to hundreds of locations, and hundreds to thousands of associates – remain challenged by justifying the ROI of tablet implementation. For example, store operations executives push for mobile investments that provide stronger selling and workforce management capabilities, while financial teams – looking for tangible boosts in KPIs – raise their eyebrows at “soft, difficult to quantify” pay-back dynamics.
This white paper’s research-intensive statistics demonstrate the upward effect on KPIs of app-based training and communications. As you’ll see, app-based video training and scoring escalate KPIs across the store operations spectrum, wholly justifying the ROI of customized training software as well as the cost of the tablets themselves.
At Last: Hard, Tangible KPI Stats For the Store Operations V.P. and CFO
Mobile in retail leverages payroll dollars by keeping associates on the sales floor longer – a huge operational advantage. Tablets replace back-office PCs for ongoing, in-the-moment brand training and knowledge scoring. In between customer time, new and established associates stay up-to-date on the latest product, branding, merchandising, workforce and corporate communications – all without leaving the selling floor. With interactive app-based training, tracking and reporting tools, such as INCITE, associates verify their learning through quick interactive quizzes, and digitally acknowledge receipt and understanding of ongoing corporate information.
Digital multimedia content eliminates the need for and expense of inconsistent “Train the Trainer” programs, as well as the costs associated with printing and shipping training manuals and their continual updates: One retailer with 400 locations saved more than $500,000 a year with the digital content that replaced printing/shipping of its quarterly knowledge cards.
Let’s take a look at some very impressive KPI research.
The following charts validate the productivity and cost impacts of a retail organization that implemented the interactive, app-based QuizScore training, tracking and reporting tool chain-wide. With $400 million in revenue and 5,000 associates in 400 locations, this retailer could generate $20 million of additional revenue yielding $10 million of additional margin at a 50% margin rate.
- a net cost savings of $3.8 million; and
- a base ROI of $13.8 million!
In addition, adjunct training such as loss prevention awareness also impacts a retailer’s bottom line and protects loyal customers from otherwise avoidable cost increases. When associates hone their skills in the right way to react to shoplifters and credit card fraud, for example, not only are losses reduced but surrounding shoppers remain comfortable and appreciate that a tough situation was handled in a very professional manner.
Surprisingly, some retailers formally provide extensive employee training in one swoop then not again for another year, sometimes three to four years! Given the industry’s high turnover rate, many or most customer-facing associates receive limited or no consistent training at all. Their ability to satisfy today’s demanding, tech-savvy and information-rich consumer is less than adequate.
For retailers implementing INCITE to support the customer experience, the result is a tangible lift in productivity and cost savings, and an initial boost in ROI that continues to expand as improvements in customer service retain more customers longer.
In-Store Digital Solution Leaders Show Stronger EBIT Than Digital Followers
The Boston Consulting Group examined how companies with advanced digital strategies are performing relative to their peers. In a February 2015 “Perspective,” BCG said its analysis of 25 fashion retailers based in Europe and North America found that “brick-and-mortar retailers that implement digital technologies in stores — both to enhance the customer experience and to improve employee performance — tend to outperform retailers that have not yet implemented a digital strategy.”
More specifically, the research found that “leaders of digital implementation in stores showed stronger EBIT growth than digital followers.”
BCG further stated that as the pace of innovation accelerates and as digital technologies influence the buying decisions of a growing percentage of customers, “retailers need to act.”
In-store technologies can “increase employees’ effectiveness by providing data at the moment it is needed to execute a task (whether that is interacting with a customer on the sales floor or managing inventory in the back).”
In addition, BCG said even a modest investment can deliver rewards, “particularly as digital solutions — often powered by third-party developers — become increasingly available and financially accessible. The truly cutting-edge innovations may be most appropriate for companies with the resources, customers and culture to support the required investment, but affordable solutions are now available to retailers of all sizes that seek to launch an in-store digital strategy.”
Analysts Note "The Tremendous Potential" Of Mobile Training
There is a “tremendous potential benefit” in providing multimedia training to store associates,” asserted Ken Morris, Principle, Boston Retail Partners. “A comprehensive multimedia training program coupled with a robust associate scoring and tracking system ensures a consistent brand image by maintaining a minimum level of competence related to the product, customer service, guided selling techniques and store exception processes like returns and exchanges. A knowledgeable, well trained and brand savvy sales force increases customer satisfaction and sales by creating a scripted dialog with the customer that translates into higher cross/upsells.”
At Deloitte Consulting LLP, Scott Bearse, Director, Retail Practice, noted that retailers are employing a variety of mobile devices to improve customer service and associate training in the store environment.
“We see it as a best practice to give store associates equivalent or better access to information so they can offer value and insight to the customer,” said Bearse. As such, “there is a revolution in process around social media and demand creation in retail – and creative retailers are finding ways to harness this for associate training.” For example, training videos that are fun and authentic can go a long with the associates, and retailers can see impact and usage far beyond the synthetic training videos of the past, where actors pretended to be associates.”
Most devices being deployed to in-store associates “are designed to keep the associate on the sales floor,” Bearse added, “by providing direction on sales support activities such as price changes, RTV’s and planogram changes, and eliminating futile searching in the backroom and locating and selling stock from another store location or the direct channel.”
In addition, according to an article from Retail TouchPoints, “retailers that invest in a digitally modernized and well-trained sales staff — the apex of customer experience delivery today — will excel at educating, converting, upselling and creating loyal customers.”
Proven KPI statistics provide hard, tangible evidence that app-based, multimedia training and scoring boost KPIs across the store operations spectrum.
Together, store operations and financial executives can easily justify the ROI of customized training and communications software as well as the cost of the tablets themselves.
In fact, one very popular tablet manufacturer told Multimedia Plus that all the benefits related to app-based training and communications – not mPOS – are driving tablet sales to retailers today.
Retailers that “get it” have been rolling out tablets with app-based training and communications across the enterprise – creating continually well-informed “brand ambassadors” capable of delivering the stellar in-store customer experiences that increase sales as well as lifetime customer value.