It is widely accepted that technology advances in recent years are shaping the future of retail. Retailers no longer have one brick and mortar connection point with customers.

Rather retailers (large and small) are using both physical and multiple digital channels to stay engaged with customers.


The Medium is the Message in Retail Training

In 2013, an article was published by the NRF called The Future of Retail. In that article, only one small paragraph alluded to the impact on retail training.

“Additionally, employees often lack the knowledge, training and tools necessary to facilitate a shopping experience that engages customers across a variety of channels and extends beyond the traditional shopping experience. As a result, many retailers are falling behind in the race to offer a unique and comprehensive experience with their brand that keeps pace with customers’ ever-evolving attitudes and expectations.”

In the world of instructional design and training, content is king – or is it? Training is changing with technology advances, just like brick-and-mortar retail is changing. In 1964, Marshall McLuhan famously said, “The medium is the message” – implying that the medium is king, not the content it carries.

So what implications does that have for designing and developing training in the retail space?

Implications for Retail

According to Micah Solomon, a customer experience consultant, “[Retailers need to]…figure out how to be better than the web—how to take advantage of what can best be provided by a store existing in a physical environment: theatricality, engagement, and the professional assistance of well trained and inspired human associates.”

Again, I ask, “What implications does technology advances and emerging medium have for designing and developing training in the retail space? Is the medium still the message in reatail training?”

What implications does it have on traditional floor training techniques as well as on eLearning, and mLearning delivery methods? Article after article mentions the competitive advantage retailers gain from well-trained employees, but you just don’t see articles or case studies of innovation applications of training in the retail environment.

Opening a Dialogue

Unlike manufacturers who have embraced six-sigma and often visit other facilities and share best practices, retail is an industry surrounded by a veil of secrecy when it comes to sharing information related to their training which is accepted as a differentiating factor between competitors.

This article attempts to open a transparent dialogue about the future of retail training. Take a look at various devices and media channels that are available today that could be integrated into a retail training solution.

Devices Media Channels
Smart Phones





Digital Assistants

Virtual Reality and other Immersive Tech






Social networks

Websites, Blogs

Are you aware of others? Does the Internet of Things or Programmed Commerce technology have application for training as well? What do you have to say about the future of retail training?