Beyond the Basics: Nine Non-Obvious Criteria for Choosing the Right LMS for Retail Industry Training

By Michael Keller, Chief product officer at iSpring solutions, Inc.

Today the culture of continuous learning, skill development and professional improvement has been adopted  by the vast majority of successful businesses. This is particularly true within the retail domain, where the market is highly competitive, and having more qualified personnel becomes a marketable advantage.

According to our recent research, a majority of employers state that over 80% of their employees get access to training each year. Thus, the  huge demand for corporate training gave rise to multiple ed-tech projects and platforms. In this sense,selecting a Learning Management System (LMS) for a business has become a plausible challenge. 

Traditionally, when selecting an LMS, business owners and decision-makers focus on criteria such as cost optimization, user-friendliness, and the variety of features offered. For retail employers, the obvious advantages would be things like well-crafted mobile learning apps, opportunities for on-site training, and key reporting tools. Whilst these  factors are undoubtedly vital;, they barely scratch the surface of what needs to be considered to truly unlock the potential of an LMS. In this article, we go into details of the less obvious, but more important criteria for selecting an LMS for the retail sector. 

Overall User Experience you Get with an LMS Provider

As a potential LMS customer, something you want to see from the start is to understand whether an LMS, as a service provider, curates a smooth customer experience for you or not. This will say a lot about how well you will be able to handle your learning process with this LMS. This is why it is important to take into account the history of an LMS provider on the market, user reviews, and initial interaction with their marketing team. Is the information on their website sufficient? Are they transparent about their fees? Do they answer your inquiries quickly and fully? Is their technical support or customer success team helpful? Address concerns like this before making any decisions on your LMS provider. 


Regular Updates and Traceable Product Development

eLearning is a field that develops continuously and sees new cutting-edge tech being adopted all the time. A key indicator that  you will be getting your money’s worth with the LMS you are considering is to see how often it gets updated and how willingly its team innovates towards increased user experience. An LMS that was successful ten years ago and hasn’t changed since then will not answer the changing market demands of today. Additionally, check  whether the LMS you are choosing integrates with complementary products such as HRIS, CRM, or conferencing. Pay special attention to how well it will incorporate into your existing infrastructure and ecosystem.  Additionally,  it is also a good sign if it provides an API for their customers to use the LMS resources within their own infrastructure and how often they roll out software updates for bugs. 

Active Community and Visible Online Presence

Consider it a plus if the LMS provider company has a visible online presence and has an active community surrounding it. This community should foster result-driven culture and value learning. Check if the provider regularly publishes various learning materials, how-to guides and other content useful for its customers Proactivity and market compability is key.

Transparent Fees and Transferable Tariff Plans

The FMCG and Retail industries have one of the highest turnover rates. With such high turnover, it is crucial for  retail companies to select LMS providers that offer transferable learner licenses. This means, once you buy a license for a worker, in case they leave the company, the license can be transferred to another employee rather than being a waste of resources and costs. You should also be able to access a complete set of  information from the beginning regarding  what is included in your LMS suite, various tariff plans and their limitations and any additional costs if they are applicable. 

Consider the LMS’s Tools for Motivation and Encouragement 

The problem with learning as an adult is that most grown ups find it really hard to muster the motivation to learn. They experience various cognitive blocks and get discouraged easily when they do not see immediate results. 52% of learners who voluntarily sign up for learning courses will not end up participating in course work at all. In retail, this problem is specifically present. In this sector, businesses are often tasked with educating low-level frontline personnel. Usually, these workers are the toughest audience for educators. They are often beginner learners, therefore learning isn’t habitual to them and it is very hard to motivate them to learn beyond the current understanding of their role. 

This is why it is absolutely essential to have an features that allow you to use adaptive learning principles. It should enable you to adjust your learning programs according to your employee’s performance and engagement. Your line personnel mustn’t feel overwhelmed by a steep learning curve. But your more experienced learners should’t find the offered courses too easy. Find a middle ground.  

Pro tip:  check if the LMS you’re looking into uses gamification principles to make boring content more engaging. Also look if it provides tools to create and issue certificates to encourage learners. 

Tools for Controlling the Learning Process and Analyzing the Results

You don’t just want your employees to learn and improve their skills, you want to see their progress, preferably, displayed in a readable, understandable, verifiable manner. For a manager in retail, it is vital to know which workers have completed training for a seasonal promotion, for example. Therefore, a good LMS should have an intuitive dashboard from where you can have both a birds-eye view of your learning system and clearly understand how to manage it on various levels. . 

With iSpring, we have taken this principle further. In retail, managers not only need to know which workers have completed the training, but they also want to see who follows the guidelines from training and applies new knowledge in practice. This is the business reason behind our ‘On-the-job Training’ feature, which introduces various tools such as checklists that allow managers to create a very clear picture of how employees across various levels of a retail chain use the information from training in their everyday work. This enables you to account for promotion budgets, transparently calculate their effectiveness, and increase ROI in the retail learning environment.

Accessibility and Inclusivity Features

Retail jobs are usually field jobs, so it should be taken for a fact that across all verticals, most of your employees will be taking their courses on the fly and in their spare time.. This being the case, , they will most likely access training from their smartphone. Remember that most retail companies also don’t have an opportunity to provide spaces equipped with PCs or laptops to educate their staff and rely on their personnel’s own computers or devices.This means that the LMS needs to have a fully responsive mobile design or a dedicated mobile app that provides seamless user experience for mobile users. Continually, the LMS will have to take into account the target audience that will be accessing their courses from their mobile phones. Many frontline retail workers do not have substantial tech training or background, you will be dealing with people who are not tech savvy. This is why the LMS mobile app needs to be easy-to-use and intuitive and navigable. 

Today it is also crucial to make sure that the LMS of your choice is accessible to users with limitations, complying with standards such as WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines), and offering features like text-to-speech, adjustable text sizes, and high-contrast visuals.  

Scalability and Flexibility

This kind of criterion is hard to measure in quantifiable numbers, however today’s market demands fast development and quick scaling both up and down.The ability to support this kind of environment in an LMS means that as your business you can prevent the need for frequent learning system replacements or costly upgrades as your organization changes. 

Adaptability becomes a pivotal point when you want to check if the LMS is capable of supporting the changing needs of the retail industry. For example, a retail chain rolls out a Christmas promotion with a specific range of products, a set of conditions and a loyalty bonus program. They quickly need to train several thousands of frontline workers across multiple geographical locations on terms and conditions of this promotion so that they are effective in their interaction with customers. An LMS in this sector must be able to scale to support the high load and adapt to different modes of learning delivery. 

Technical Support with a Human Touch

Education is often a very sensitive topic, it requires a lot of personal communication and non-generic, nuanced solutions. Even though modern AIs are capable of imitating human interaction quite successfully and provide the much-needed immediacy, there’s a limit to how many everyday problems they can solve and provide solutions to. If the LMS provider offers live support through multiple channels to their customers and their technical support features a lot of human interaction in general, it is always a good sign that the company is reliable and customer-oriented. 


In corporate learning and training for retail, an LMS is much more than software: it is a catalyst for growth and innovation, and a tangible way to assess the quality of your learning strategy and increase the ROI for your corporate education program. When so much hangs in the balance based on your choice of an LMS provider, decision-makers need to look beyond mere functionality and assess whether an LMS can be a foundation for a holistic and effective learning environment. The specifics of the retail industry create additional criteria for an LMS, and an ideal LMS should adapt, scale and become a cornerstone for an ecosystem that enhances every facet of your corporate learning culture.

Michael Keller is a prominent figure in the e-learning industry, known for his leadership at iSpring, a company specializing in e-learning software and services. Under his guidance, iSpring has developed innovative solutions for online education and training.

Check out our free weekly podcast

Back to top button