Wireless technology has transformed the global economy. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the retail industry. For businesses to distinguish themselves in an environment where product and price no longer differentiate one entity from another, retailers must develop strategies that focus on customer-centric execution at the store level. To drive revenue and improve customer experience, IT departments must implement mobility solutions that enhance the customer experience.
It is critical for CIOs to become more of a strategic partner instead of “IT gatekeepers” primarily concerned with cost management, according to respondents of a Forrester survey . CIOs need to be “obsessed with the sorts of emerging customer-focused technology.” When it comes to mobility solutions, IT needs to shift its perspective from the traditional information technology function to Business Technology (BT).BT focuses on “systems, technologies and processes to win, serve and retain customers.” The benefits offered by mobility solutions in the retail industry are numerous and have a direct impact on sales and the customer experience.
1. Mobility is much more than a smartphone app
Rightly so, there has been a tremendous focus on smart phone technology and the ability it has to create better experience for retail customers. However, there are multiple uses of mobile technology that can be blended with your staff that can truly transform the breadth and depth of consumer experience and catapult satisfaction to a whole other stratosphere.
More retailers are making effective use of mobility solutions designed to improve in-store communication, particularly through the use of WLAN for voice communications. Often, employees need a quick answer or solution to a customer inquiry. Employees can use a smart badge to instantly connect to coworkers on the in-house network.
The easy to use technology empowers workers with quick connectivity, which has proven to be more practical than fixed phone line communications. This mobile innovation also exceeds the reliability of an in-house mobile network, which can be prone to signal loss.
Wireless mobile computers provide employees instant connectivity and access to useful information that not only make every store-level task go faster but provides unparalleled accuracy and visibility to all stakeholders. The technology improves performance in a variety of ways including:
- Tracking in-store inventory
- Pricing information and comparisons
- Promotions tasks
- Delivery information
It enhances customer service delivery, such as price lookups, locating inventories and special orders. Staff will be able to bring up the price of products from online competitors, which gives them the powerful potential to match online prices, and do their jobs faster and more effectively.
Dashboards enable managers to get out on the floor to interact with staff and customers, monitor transactions and make decisions in real time.
2. Visibility adds value to inventory
Mobility solutions for inventory management systems offer outstanding value to retail operations of all types and sizes. Apparel firms need real-time visibility of their inventory to drive operational efficiency and increase productivity throughout the complete retail supply chain from —from the warehouse and throughout the store—you can maintain an accurate account on the movement of your products to better serve customers and run a profitable business.
Customers have numerous mobile touch points for research, order placement, payment, order tracking, and customer service. The right mobility solutions can help businesses seamlessly blend fragmented, multi-channel retail systems to improve cross-channel visibility, to capture opportunities, and improve the customer experience.
If an item is out-of-stock, retailers like Nordstrom and Best Buy have made it simple for customers to transition across channels, including web, kiosks, in-store, call centers, and mobile to close the sale.
3. The transaction hinges on having the right product at the right time and place and at the best possible price
Technology and social-media savvy and informed consumers can purchase a product from anyone, anywhere and at any time they desire. When purchasing big-ticket items, more than 80% of these people perform research over the Internet before they walk into the store—armed with knowledge and mobile computing power.
The best-performing retail stores know this and they leverage sophisticated mobility solutions to excel in a variety of ways, including:
- Run up-to-the-minute reports to anticipate customer demand.
- Exchange information between the warehouse and store.
- Receive real-time updates on incoming shipments.
- Facilitate efficient regular cycle counting.
- Establish and maintain true merchandise quantities on hand.
- Track competitors’ prices.
Retailers that have been slow to harness mobility solutions risk losing customers to better prepared competitors that understand the power of mobility.
Mobility has created a paradigm shift for the retail industry. Smart retailers must deploy mobile solutions across all channels to help them develop, execute, and support holistic marketing plans and strategies. Mobility for retail will make your operations cost-efficient, increase revenues, optimize profitability, and deliver memorable consumer experiences.