WH Smith North America Elevates Sales and Smiles with Retail Training

Achieving New Heights in Sales and Employee Engagement through Training on SmarterU LMS
WH Smith North America logo
$3 to $5 purchase increase
Average customer purchase increase which helped boost company revenue
90% engagement rate
Learners eager to explore the catalog, take courses, and work toward success
3,000 learners
Training was delivered with two distinct brands for 350+ stores and growing
100,000 course completions
The Client
WH Smith North America is an international retailer operating Marshall Retail Group (MRG) and InMotion stores, with locations in airports, train stations, resorts, and casinos.
The Challenge
Providing training for 350 stores with two distinct brands while facing the unique challenges of operating retail stores with long hours, outside city centers, and airport security screening.
The Solution
When learners access training, custom learner dashboards, portal URLs, and multilingual capabilities bridge familiarity and support team members working in countries worldwide.

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The Client

WH Smith North America is an international retailer operating Marshall Retail Group (MRG) and InMotion stores. Both brands focus on the travel and commuter sectors, with locations in airports, train stations, resorts, and casinos. 

With more than 350 stores and growing, WH Smith North America receives millions of daily visits from travelers and commuters.

The Challenge

A Unique Training Terrain

There are unique challenges to training a chain of stores operating in airports. In traditional retail, new staff typically train in their home store, often outside the store’s open hours. In airport environments, this is often impossible.

Airport stores are typically open many more hours of the day than traditional retail stores — often 5:00 AM to 11:00 PM — leaving few opportunities for in-store training.  

Airports tend to be well outside city centers, resulting in longer commutes.

Staff must also undergo airport security screening upon arrival before accessing the store.

Adding time to arrive at and begin work can be a challenge to gaining and retaining qualified staff. WH Smith North America did not want the challenges of operating in airports to limit their ability to hire, train, and retain the best personnel for their retail stores. 

They needed a way to deliver product training in two sets of retail brands, each with its own catalog of products and licensing arrangements, without the high cost of bringing staff and trainers to the store environment.   

Neovation’s SmarterU LMS was easy for us to learn and implement quickly, but complex enough to allow us to grow and do more as our ability increased.

Portrait of a smiling man with short brown hair in a navy blue blazer.
Anthony Sitchler
Global Training Director, WH Smith North America
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The Quest for the Ideal LMS 

WH Smith North America knew they would need a powerful learning management system (LMS) to create their vision of an online one-stop shop for employee training.
With two distinct retail brands, they also needed a system that would give every user a familiar environment that reflected their home store brand's look, feel, operation, and product catalog. 
After investigating many options, a full demonstration of Neovation’s SmarterU LMS gave them complete reassurance that they could deploy quickly with a limited set of SmarterU features and add complexity to their system architecture as they expanded their training. 

The Solution

Crafting the Perfect Learning Experience 

With limited time to deploy essential training, WH Smith North America prioritized having the essentials in place for its initial launch.

WH Smith North America leveraged SmarterU's SCORM- compliant capacities to deliver engaging, interactive courses developed with Articulate 360’s suite of eLearning authoring tools. The externally created training became the initial library of essential courses and resource materials needed to launch the system.

Man sitting at a desk with a laptop. The laptop screen shows an InMotion dashboard in SmarterU LMS.

Attention then turned to the learner dashboard. With two separate retail brands operating under the WH Smith North America family, providing a familiar virtual environment that reflected each employee’s home brand was essential.

Engagement with training can wane if employees don’t see the connection between their training system and their workplace. WH Smith North America needed a way to use one system to partition content and deliver a tailored, branded experience for two distinct audiences.

Partnered with Neovation, WH Smith North America created custom learner dashboards and URLs for each brand so every learner immediately saw a familiar look and feel when accessing the system, including multilingual dashboards to support their team members working in countries worldwide. 

“When learners go into the LMS, they see a store or a brand that looks like the one they’re working in.”

Anthony Sitchler
Global Training Director, WH Smith North America
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Launching the Program

WH Smith North America launched its essential, brand-specific product training for both InMotion and MRG stores as its first phase with SmarterU.

Learning plans were crafted to direct users through each step of the training to ensure they were clear on the required tasks. The learning plans also let users see their progress through the program to provide encouragement and sustain engagement.

They quickly engaged with the new platform and completed their initial training efficiently. At the same time, WH Smith North America was busy adding new courses and resources for learners to explore. The second phase of their launch expanded training to include key human resources topics. Following that, the next phase rolled operational training into the SmarterU experience.

As these new areas of focus were added, product training continued, with new courses and resources added regularly, so there was always something new for learners to explore. 

By making it easy for learners to complete their assigned training and offering them a blend of on-demand courses and resources, staff quickly adopted the system as a one-stop shop to expand their product knowledge and further develop their customer service and operational expertise. 

On the administration side, the expanded training also saw more store leaders and other senior stakeholders take a keen interest in how their team members engaged with, completed, and retained their learning. WH Smith North America took advantage of SmarterU's highly customizable and robust reporting to craft meaningful reports that gave all stakeholders the information they needed at a glance. 

And for the times when live training is needed? No more long commutes to an airport, followed by a security check, to get an instructor and learners into a common location and go store-by-store. WH Smith North America used SmarterU to create, schedule, and track live training that can now be delivered online to users in multiple locations simultaneously. 

Results & Benefits

In retail, effective product training directly impacts sales performance. For example, WH Smith North America's sales data reveals that after implementing the SmarterU LMS, they increased their average sale by $3 to $5 per purchase across all 350+ stores. This boost has significantly enhanced the company's revenue.

They also reduced costs by delivering live training online. The cost of traveling to stores to conduct training was expensive and taxing for trainers. More eLearning and live online training decreased costs and saved time and budget for more course development and other critical L&D activities

Inside of an InMotion retail store

WH Smith North America has achieved the learning culture it hoped for—one in which a learning mindset was more important than a completion mindset.

Because learners are recognized positively for the time and attention they devote to each course rather than the simple metric of whether they completed it, the organization saw a 90% engagement rate from their learner audience. Learners are eager to explore the catalog, enroll in courses, and learn more to succeed personally.

The robust reporting and notification options in SmarterU LMS also support the culture of transparency and accountability. Supervisors and managers have everything they need to see how their team members are engaging with training and can leverage that information to support their ongoing coaching and development efforts with team members.

“Since using Neovation’s SmarterU LMS, we have increased our average customer purchase by $3 to $5. Regarding cost reduction, we reduced travel costs enough to produce more training. Using our LMS is financially more advantageous than doing expensive, in-person training.”

Portrait of a smiling man with short brown hair in a navy blue blazer.
Anthony Sitchler
Global Training Director, WH Smith North America
Download the Success Story PDF

Training That Takes Off

$3 to $5 increase
The average customer purchase has increased between $3 and $5 dollars
90% engagement
The engagement rate with learners has been an outstanding 90%
3,000 learners
They have an extensive learner base across their various brand concepts
100,000 course completions in SmarterU LMS!

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Future Plans

With seven years of success using SmarterU LMS, WH Smith North America, including InMotion and Marshall Retail Group (MRG), is expanding its learning management system to take that success to new heights.

They are expanding their multilingual course offerings to ensure that all team members, whether in Las Vegas, Miami, or Calgary, get the same supportive, tailored training experience.

They are also introducing courses on personal development to their library to support the evolution and careers of their team members.

And as for the product training that started their journey in eLearning? The proof is in the numbers — sales increase when staff are good at discussing the products they sell.

With a clear and measurable increase in average transaction value, WH Smith North America continues to develop and deploy exceptional product training through SmarterU so that every team member, whatever their brand and wherever their store, has access to the training they need to succeed.

InMotion airport retail store

Neovation is more than just an LMS supplier; they are a true vendor partner. We don't want to be just another customer, and Neovation has helped us grow by providing guidance and support. Their partnership is invaluable; they are always quick to respond when we need assistance. They even remember my name and ask about other things that are important to us, which shows their commitment to our success.

Anthony Sitchler
Global Training Director, WH Smith North America
Download the Success Story PDF

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