In almost every industry, technology drives a more seamless experience—perhaps none more so than retail. As new and necessary consumer journeys emerge, cultures and processes are shifting to ensure the associates and consumers alike feel safe. The New Next presents challenges for delivery and interaction. We believe the strategic adoption of mobile technology helps to meet the consumer at the point of intent and interaction. To guarantee the best results, retailers must develop a robust strategy that spans technology, store operations, staff training, and more.
For retailers considering moving to a mobile or hybrid point of service (POS) to support new or changing strategies, knowing where to start may be the biggest challenge. What's more, when retailers make a move to mobile, the transition isn't always flawless. In our guidebook, Framing Your Mobile Retail Point-of-Service Strategy, we look at the unanticipated bumps in the road from the perspective of corporate and store levels, culture, staffing, and store operations.
A retailer looking to use mobile to connect with shoppers might jump to put a tablet in every associate's hands. Retailers must consider the tactical realities of their stores and adjust the staffing accordingly. If they've only budgeted for two associates in-store at a time, that means while one assists the customers, the other sits at the register and keeps their eyes on the exit to ensure no unpurchased items walk out the door. Replacing traditional registers and tasking everyone with sales might mean that associates need to be re-trained to change behaviors slightly, to pay more attention to possible theft while engaging with customers, or even assign a specific associate to be aware of potential threats.
What to Consider: Before making a significant change, it's essential to consider the potential impact on everything from staffing to service, including possible ripple effects. Taking a broader view of the implications of a shift to mobile, or other changes, will help retailers make strategic decisions.
In retail businesses like jewelry, store associates may stay with a single shopper browsing to check out. While a mobile device can empower associates, it can also become an impediment as a shopper's journey comes close. When the associate heads to the back of the store to wrap up a purchase or needs a free hand, they may set down their device, often where a traditional register once sat, bringing the journey full circle.
What to Consider: At the outset of the journey to mobile, retailers should consider how associates interact with guests. Associates are trained to provide shoppers with the smoothest possible experience, even if that means not using the mobile capabilities to their fullest if the device gets between the associate and their customer. There are a time and a place for fixed devices and mobile sales. Find the balance in your brand experience.
As consumers adopt the BORIS (buy online, return in-store) or BORC (buy online, return curbside) model and head in-store to return online purchases, retailers must balance traffic from returns and new purchases. In a line of six customers, five might be making online returns while one waits at the back with an item on a hanger, ready to make a purchase. In the hustle and bustle of handling returns, store associates may lose sight of one of mobile's most prominent use cases—line busting to save the sale.
What to Consider: Retailers should consider the possibility of challenging scenarios and social distance requirements in their stores. Companies need to plan for flexibility, so associates have the tools they need to solve challenges on the fly—like keeping returns to a fixed register while checking those waiting to make a purchase out using mobile.
Fortunately, not every mobile retail POS journey will be like these stories. With much planning and consideration, the right strategy, and the right technology for the job at hand, mobile point of service solutions can improve the in-store experience, empower associates and create more meaningful connections along the way.
Just as every retailer is different, each brand's operational demands and technological needs differ, too. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution that defines the associate and customer (brand) experience at every retailer, our guidebook will help realize your vision toward a mobile POS strategy.