This is a recap of an article I wrote for the RIS New Special Report: 2016 Mobile Products & Solutions Guide (see page 6 – Transform the Experience).
Transform the Experience
There has been a huge technology shift in the past few years and mobile technology is the driver. Mobile capabilities enable retailers to break down the barrier between the online digital environment and the physical store. The proliferation of tablets and smartphones has created new opportunities for retailers to enhance the customer experience to meet the expectations of their very informed and technology-savvy customers.
Retailers are increasingly using mobile devices to transform the customer experience in three key areas:
Mobile POS frees associates from the checkout desk to enable more personal interaction and it simplifies the customer’s experience. According to BRP’s “2016 POS Survey,” 20% of retailers have implemented mobile POS and 78% plan to utilize within three years. We are seeing a growing trend of retailers implementing a flexible mobile POS option where a tablet inserted in a docking station can be a replacement for traditional POS. Mobile POS offers a lower initial upfront cost and is disposable, enabling retailers to eliminate annual maintenance costs.
Retailers can leverage the knowledge and skills of an “A” associate through mobile apps, ostensibly turning their “B” and “C” associates into “A” associates. According to the 2016 POS Survey, only 14% of retailers currently offer suggested selling based on a customer’s previous purchase, however, 72% of retailers plan to offer this service within three years.
Leveraging consumers’ mobile devices to identify them as they walk into the store enables retailers to enhance the shopping experience through more personalized services. Once customers are identified, retailers can send personalized offers and recommendations to their smartphones and provide interactive product suggestions. According to the same survey, only 10% of retailers can identify customers via near field communications (NFC) today, however, within three years 50% of retailers plan to have this capability.
Keys to Mobile Success
There is no debate that mobile is a key component to enhancing the customer experience. Below are a few best practices to ensure your mobile deployment is a success:
- Identify customers as they enter the store and know everything about them and their environment: personal preferences, purchase history, key dates, browsing history, and cart abandonment information.
- Train sales associates and educate customers on using mobile technology.
- Have the right infrastructure: network, WiFi, middleware and order management.
- Ensure real-time visibility and access to product information across the enterprise.
Mobile is clearly the new frontier changing retailers’ customer engagement model, operational budgets, in-store procedures and layouts. Mobile is definitely the future of retail, consumers demand it and retailers are focused on meeting consumer expectations by enhancing their mobile capabilities.
Are you keeping up with your customers’ desires for mobile features?
As always, I appreciate your feedback and insights. Please share your opinions below.