Skill development in retail industry is a huge challenge, in terms of numbers, reach and quick scalability. Mobile learning can be monumental in achieving the goals with quality and efficiency.
Often, I wonder why is it that we don’t promote and explore the scope of mobile learning with equal enthusiasm as mobile commerce is being pushed and embraced. The mobile device used for buying and selling has the potential to become a powerful tool for learning and empowerment. A case in point would be the retail training scenario in India. The explosion of retail outlets in cities and semi-rural areas has created an unprecedented demand for training the personnel in different skills.
Indian retail sector currently contributes about 23% of national GDP and very soon there would be a demand for more than 18 million trained and skilled workforce. Quite a challenge! This can be efficiently handled provided we have a skill development ecosystem that blends classroom training with ICT enabled learning, particularly mobile learning or mlearning. Some key facts about mobile Internet users in India:
- Users are expected to reach 213 million by June
- In rural India they are likely to grow to 53 million by June 2015, urban India will continue to account for 160 million users
- The average monthly spend on mobile Internet has gone up by 36 per cent to reach Rs. 235
- More than half of them spend more than Rs 100 but less than or equal to Rs 500 in availing the mobile Internet services
- Nearly 30 per cent spend more than Rs 500 on the mobile Internet connection
- While 33 per cent of the mobile Internet users avail rental plans with limited downloads, 21 per cent subscribe to unlimited rental plans (source: The Hindu January 2015)
Mobile learning for retail training and skill development
Mobile learning is facilitated by mobile technology to enable learning anytime, anywhere. It can also complement other forms of learning using ICT. Mlearning involves the use of mobile devices to access educational content for quick learning, interact with other learners, trainers and subject matter experts. With affordable smart phones, improved network and lucrative offers from the service providers, mlearning has the potential to impact millions of users, especially in rural areas.
Traditionally, retails training has been mostly offered through classrooms and elearning. This is definitely effective in achieving the learning goals for a particular training program. What about the follow up learning where the learners can recall and refresh what they learnt, particularly while applying their knowledge at the workplace? It’s here that mlearning can score over other forms of training, since it’s handy to access learning resources while on the move, and make use of free time to learn and update knowledge and skills. Videos can demonstrate how things work , audio can have interesting snippets on work related content.
Most effectively, mlearning can complement classroom training for sales, operations, services, inventory and new hire orientation. It can be offered in two ways: by accessing the Internet from a mobile device or as a downloadable learning app. Next time you design a training program for retail skills, do consider including the mobile learning component to make learning continuous and empowering.