Brick-and-mortar Retail’s Secret Advantage

With shoppers relying more and more on the online marketplace to buy everything from cars to crayons, many business analysts continue questioning brick-and-mortar retail’s role in commerce. The COVID-19 pandemic raised even more questions about in-person shopping’s viability as online purchases and deliveries grew dramatically. 

While the data definitely suggests an increasing shift from in-store to online, we do not accept that brick-and-mortar retail is fading into the sunset. Many brick-and-mortar retailers have an untapped advantage over online shopping – a live human who can assist, inform, recommend, and in some cases, entertain – all in person and in real-time. An online presence can actually then enhance the in-store experience, especially when staffed with engaging, knowledgeable individuals. The result is omnichannel retail, a multichannel approach that delivers a seamless customer experience, whether they are shopping online or in a brick-and-mortar location.

Having started as a talent development firm providing instructional design services and program development for companies in retail verticals, Learner Mobile recognized our clients’ struggles with logistics, the high expense and time commitment associated with training. Businesses were also evolving so fast that training development using conventional methods couldn’t keep pace with a changing marketplace that required a new approach.

We realized that we could give them an advantage by providing continuous, on-demand, and just-in-time training delivered in bite-sized chunks so their associates could consume training on the job and in the flow of their work – on the sales floor. No learning management system (LMS) could handle this type of experience, which led us to create Learner Mobile – the first learner-centric LMS designed to continually curate targeted and timely training. The breakthrough advantage for our brick-and-mortar retail clients is how easily we could accommodate an associate’s work and lifestyle.

The result is that we’ve seen higher overall associate engagement compared to our competitors and higher content consumption rates. But the most impressive result has been the businesses performance of our clients, who have reported increases in in-store sales revenue and improved operational efficiency and consistency. All this is to say that brick-and-mortar’s secret advantage is an associate who is a modern learner.

The omnichannel approach is redefining retail. Shoppers are people and most people crave variety – in their products, services, lifestyles, entertainment, and yes, even shopping and learning too. We’ve seen the research on how shopping – from large department stores to online marketplaces – varies by age, demographics, and geography. This is very much like how Learner Mobile saw the growing demand for convenient and immediate learning.  Similarly, shoppers use smartphones and other portable devices when making purchases – in addition to brick-and-mortar retail and from home online shopping – that provide a variety of options.

The bottom-line seems to be that whether learning or shopping, people want to be in control of their time and are drawn to convenient, frictionless experiences when working, playing, learning, and living life – in an increasingly untethered world.


Mike Thompson – CEO, SVI and Learner Mobile

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