The Freedom of Mobility
What is the real role of store associates?
How can they help customers who are already equipped with the numerous benefits of smartphones? Is there a way for them to be better equipped with information that customers need, providing services that customers truly value?
The role of the store associate is always about providing customers with a great experience, and that role can be best fulfilled while they’re out on the store floor, away from stationary kiosks or computers. Leveraging mobile devices is the way to accomplish this.
Unleashing the Power of Store Associates
Equipping store associates with mobile devices provides the freedom and the power to accomplish more on the sales floor.
- Acting as a Source of Information for Customers
More than anything else, customers want store associates to help them with product information. A Forrester survey noted that 60% of customers expect mobile-enabled store associates to help them look up product information.1 This is the case even when over 90% of consumers use mobile devices while shopping in retail stores. Often, the store associate can use a mobile device on the go to access information that the customer may need, such as warranty and return policy information, or specific product features such as compatibility.
- Creating the Endless Aisle
Some stores use kiosks to create an “endless aisle”, which means that instead of simply using the physical space on the shelf, a digital device is able to extend product offerings to the full catalog of products available online. Using unmanned mobile devices for these operations has its drawbacks; kiosks are fixed to one location, are unable to adapt to customer behavior, and can frustrate customers that have to take on more of the work during their shopping trip. Equipping store associates with mobile devices gives them real-time visibility into store inventory, as well as access to items not currently in the store, but available online that can easily be shipped to customers, providing a positive in-store experience and retaining business.
A Forrester survey noted that 58% of customers expect mobile-enabled store associates to check additional store inventory when shelves are empty, and 56% of customers expect them to be able to look up inventory at nearby stores.1
- Streamlining the Customer Journey
Mobile-enabled store associates are increasingly able to perform standard functions for the customer anywhere in the store. Just look at the expansion of mobile POS services. 84% of retailers plan to use mobile POS in stores by 2020, greatly reducing the role of a fixed checkout station. Providing store associates with mobile devices gives them the ability to handle check-out transactions from any point in the store, like Apple does at their brick-and-mortar stores.
- Extending Omni-Channel Services In-Store
Omni-channel services are paving the way for a future of retail where digital and physical shopping channels are combined into a cohesive experience. Giving store associates tablets mobilizes them to engage customers by:
- Showing augmented reality simulations
- Personalizing service using customer history
- Helping them order online through an “endless aisle” of products
Retail may be changing, but the role of the store associate ultimately stays the same. In order to accomplish that role and assist customers to the best of their ability, they need the freedom to access online information while breaking away from stationary kiosks and computers.
Mobile devices create that freedom, empowering them to assist customers anywhere in the store, enhancing their ability to provide important information, and enabling them to offer services that make the customer journey easier and simpler.
1The State Of The Digital Store, June 2017, Forrester https://www.forrester.com/report/The+State+Of+The+Digital+Store/-/E-RES115416