Top 3 Reasons for Mobile Device Adoption in a Retail Environment

This is the second in a series of blogs – in which I will be reviewing and discussing a variety of technologies that are redefining how some retailers operate their stores.    

Mobile Devices

Given how ubiquitous mobile devices are in our personal lives, and the amazing benefits and usefulness mobile devices provide in our personal lives, I’m always surprised by the number of retailers, particularly “bigger” box retailers that have not fully-adopted mobile devices within their stores…

The benefits of equipping Store Associates or at least Store Managers are vast in a retail setting.  Years ago, I could understand and appreciate the hesitation to invest in mobile devices due to cost or concerns about device reliability.  However, those two major roadblocks are largely gone – mobile devices continue to rapidly drop in price and the stability of today’s operating platforms is fantastic.

To further the argument for mobile device adoption, here are the top 3 reasons that I’ve seen span across all retail verticals and are typically the foundation for any ROI analysis done by a retailer when investing in mobile devices…

Top 3 Reasons for Mobile Device Adoption in a Retail Environment:

1 – To Save the Sale:

Store Associates equipped with mobile devices can quickly and easily play defense by offering customers in-store ordering options for out-of-stock or specialty items. Perhaps even adding on-the-spot incentives, like additional discounts and/or free shipping for ordering in-store, as opposed to leaving and either going to another retailer or visiting an online competitor.

2 – To Improve Efficiency:

The labor crunch is on in retail.  Retailers are scrambling to look for ways to make their Store Associates more productive.  Like in our personal lives, our smartphones can largely eliminate the need to use our computers.  The same holds true in a retail setting. Instead of forcing Store Associates to make countless, non-value-added trips to the back room to use the “office computer”, mobile devices allow Store Associates to act without leaving the sales floor.  Looking up prices, checking task manager, printing signage, responding to email – the list goes on and on.  Simply put, a mobile-equipped Store Associate is significantly more efficient and is better positioned to deliver customer service – a true win-win.  

3 – To Speed-Up Communication:

Retailing is fast paced.  and that creates challenges. Store Associates often need to react very quickly.  For grocery retailers, reacting quickly to recalls can literally mean the difference between life and death. For mass retailers, reacting quickly to a price change or out-of-stock notification can mean millions of dollars. Regardless of the situation, relying on traditional forms of communication – email, phone call, intranet posting, etc – to notify Store Associates of these situations simply does not cut it anymore.  Reactions in retail need to be near real-time and the best way to achieve that is by equipping Store Associates with mobile devices.

Bottom Line…

 Mobile is now a fundamental retail technology that should be deployed by all retailers, given the ever-reducing price point of the technology and the immediate, tangible benefits.

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Chris Kelly, industry thought-leader and Director at Connors Group, leverages his deep experience both in retailing and consulting to craft innovative workforce management and store execution solutions for clients. He can be reached at [email protected]
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