At the Shop.org Digital Summit 2015, I moderated a retail executive panel on mobile technology and below is a summary of the topics we discussed. For more details, here is a link to the complete recap of the session:
Here are some of the key points discussed during the session…
There has been a huge technology shift in the past few years and mobile technology in the hands of consumers and retail associates has been the driver. Mobile capabilities allow a retailer to break down the barrier between the online digital environment and the physical store. Mobile is driving retailers to upgrade and replace technology to keep ahead of their competitors’ customer experience offerings and to try to keep up with their very informed and technology-savvy customers.
Mobile Technology is an Enabler
Consumers now use mobile devices to research products, compare prices, complete purchases online and increasingly to pay for in-store purchases. The proliferation of tablets and mobile phones has also created new opportunities for retailers to enhance customer service. Putting mobile devices in the hands of store associates enables inventory look-up (enterprise-wide) even for products not immediately available, supports the associate providing assistance to the customer on the selling floor, supports transaction processing anywhere in the store and anywhere in their supply chain.
Mobile is the Future
According to Boston Retail Partners’ 2015 POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey, many retailers are focused on expanding their mobile capabilities.
- 286% more retailers plan to deploy mobile POS in the next two years
- 165% more retailers plan to offer personalized recommendations via customer-facing mobile in 3 years
- 56% of retailers plan to accept Apple Pay within 3 years
“The mobile device is the cash register of the future, the sales associate of the future and the wallet of the future – or rather the now!”
Mobile for Customer Identification and Personalization
Customers and their shopping behavior remain anonymous without some type of customer identification. One of the keys to influencing a customer’s purchase and offering a personalized experience is to identify the customer early, as soon as they enter the store. In BRP’s 2015 POS/Customer Engagement Benchmarking Survey, 90% of the retailers surveyed said they were able to identify their customer in the store, which is up significantly from 73% in the 2014 survey. However, in many cases, customer identification is happening at the point of checkout or later, which is too late to influence the current purchase decision.
In BRP’s CRM/Unified Commerce Benchmark Survey, very few retailers (6%) indicated they have the ability to identify customers when they walk in the store via their smartphone. The bigger story is the 53% who plan to implement this within five years – that’s an 883% increase
Keys to Mobile Success
As discussed in our panel session, here are a few things retailers need to do to successfully deploy mobile capabilities:
- Create a consistent experience across all channels
- Know everything about your customer:
- Personal preferences
- Purchase history
- Key dates (anniversary, bithdays,etc.)
- What’s in their closet?
- Where did they browse?
- Did they abandon an online cart?
- Be as connected as your customers
- Train sales associates on using mobile technology (change management)
- Have the right infrastructure: network, middleware, order management
- Have visibility and access to customer and product information across the enterprise – in real-time!
Here are a few challenges our retail panelist discussed:
- Keeping up with Customers and Technology
- Privacy and Security
- Inventory Accuracy
- High-Speed Internet Access In-store with WiFi
- Choosing the right Technology Partners
Mobile is definitely the future of retail, as consumers demand it and retailers are focused on enhancing their mobile capabilities. Are you keeping up with your customers’ desires for mobile features?
For more details on mobile technology for retail, download the full report:
As always, I appreciate your perspectives on this topic. Please share your comments below.