Stop the Disappearing Associate Act with Mobile Technology

Third Channel Blog – Most consumers today have experienced the vanishing retail associate act: The associate, when asked to locate a product, will tell a consumer they’re going to “check the system” or “see if it’s in the back,” only to disappear and not return. The consumer is left wandering the sales floor, unsure of the associate’s return, impatience mounting. Meanwhile, the sale and that consumer’s satisfaction hang in the balance.

A recent report from Boston Retail Partners (BRP) found of the 49% of retailers that implemented a mobile solution, only 13% said it’s working well—while 36% said their system “needs improvement.”

While most companies focus on successfully implementing technical solutions, the report found that retailers overlook the importance of training staff during this implementation. Associates should be prepared to answer the most common questions: such as checking inventory for a certain size, pulling up a customer’s previous purchase information, and recommending what other products a consumer might like.

The key is having the device on-hand, which keeps the associate engaged with the consumer through every step of the buying process.

“The chances of the person leaving the store go up every minute that you’re not engaged with them,” Perry Kramer, Vice President and Practice Lead at BRP, says. “The sales associate doesn’t have to leave the customer…Have somebody else run to the stock room and get [the product],” Kramer says.

In the event that an item is out of stock, the ability to instantly order online or identify stock in another store can deter the customer from going elsewhere. Staying with the customer also offers the associate greater potential to not only save the sale, but up-sell complementary products and accessories.

Most brands and retailers are choosing to go mobile, according to Kramer. The BRP report found nearly 90% of retailers plan to deploy some type of mobile solution to store associates within the next three years. In addition to access to inventory and product information, 84% of retailers plan to utilize a mobile point of sale by 2020.

“Start with the basics,” Kramer advises retailers and brands considering taking the mobile leap. “Use mobile to support a good customer experience.” Approach a mobile implementation with a comprehensive plan to bring product information, inventory data, customer preferences and the ability to process payments to the associates. By empowering them to stay engaged with consumers and drive sales in-stores, brands and retailers will see a much higher rate of success.

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