Prior to the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, retailers were investing in stores by rightsizing their real estate footprints and reshaping the store experience around customer engagement. Now retailers are challenged with maintaining the same level of engagement, while also providing a contactless, safe experience and managing social distancing. Putting a mobile device into the hands of a retail associate is rapidly becoming a key, revenue-driving part of that strategy.
The key to delivering all of these great experiences is to get the right information and services to the customer at the moment of need. And the most effective way to do that is by arming every retail associate with mobile devices and ready access to data. Associate mobile is key to the future of retail.
With mobile, retailers maximize the economic value of every associate by empowering them to enable better results in five key areas: assistive selling, clienteling, mobile point of sale (POS), curbside, and workflow.
1. Assistive Selling
The research is clear: the ability to interact with a knowledgeable associate is both a driver of store traffic and fuel for a satisfying customer experience.
Mobile devices flip the script on customers feeling they know more than a store’s own staff. With a mobile device in hand, a retail associate embodies the brand, however that’s defined. The associate is able to personalize the encounter based on search and purchase history, VIP status and other detail; access expert product info and demos; locate merchandise in-store or in another channel; configure an order; schedule services; and so on.
Clienteling enables associates to develop profitable relationships with customers by maintaining contact beyond the store environment. This includes:
- Contacting customers via email/SMS to share links to suggested products online or in-store.
- Informing customers when similar or new products are in stock.
- Reminding customers to repurchase items that might be running low.
- Sending personalized birthday or anniversary messages/discount codes.
- Allowing appointments and reservations to be created by both customer and associate for visiting stores.
The aim is to increase customer loyalty and drive sales, while also increasing associate motivation by rewarding them for the resulting revenue uplifts.
3. Mobile POS
Long lines at checkout are a huge deterrent, now more than ever, as consumers want to get in and out of the store as quickly as possible. By empowering associates to check out customers on the spot with mobile technology, retailers drive revenue on several fronts.
With mobile POS in high-touch formats, assisted selling activities can seamlessly transition into completed sales. In low-touch formats, consumers can approach a nearby associate and quickly be on their way.
4. BOPIS and Curbside Service
According to Adobe Analytics data, buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) orders, including curbside, increased 62 percent year-over-year from late February to March 21, and there's no indication that this is slowing down. As curbside pickup evolves, customers will begin to expect the rest of the in-store experience to follow. Equipping associates with mobile devices enables them to facilitate everything from checking inventory to curbside returns and exchanges. Since COVID curbside orders have increased 208 percent and 59 percent of customers say they're more likely to continue curbside pickup.
As retailers gain more real-time visibility into store floor activities, they can deploy their workforces more strategically to respond in real time to changing store conditions. Supervisors can assign an associate to a key task like ensuring inventory accuracy, and then instantly shift that worker to direct revenue-driving activities, on demand.
Say a retail associate has been tasked with resetting a display, but then is faced with a flood of click-and-collect orders or a customer comes by asking for help locating inventory. With a mobile device in hand, the associate can immediately be reassigned to pick for click-and-collect and access a flow of orders on the spot, without administrative downtime or trips to the back room. Mobile keeps associates on the sales floor.
The Future of Retail is Mobile
With the stakes this high, it’s not enough to passively put the pieces in place and hope those store shoppers find what they’re looking for. To drive revenue, engagement and repeat visits, retailers must make sure not only that every store visit exceeds expectations, but also that the customer relationship is strengthened beyond the store through clienteling. Store associates are your secret weapon to making sure that happens. By putting a mobile device into every associate’s hands, retailers blend the digital, the physical and the personal, transforming the store visit from one where a customer might get their needs fulfilled to one where they certainly they will.