It is time for retailers to move on from cash lane technology and outdated barcode scanners.
Customers who take the time to visit your brick-and-mortar store want to be rewarded with a satisfying experience. They want your store associates to serve them effectively and quickly and send them on their way without making them queue up at a cash register.
The sooner you shift your investments to mobile devices for all your retail associates, the faster you will increase profitability and eliminate wasteful spending. The cash lane is long overdue for retirement, and that’s actually great news for retail brands — at least for the ones who start making the switch to mobile devices now.
Significantly Better Employee Experience
Your employees, like your customers, regard their mobile devices as extensions of their brains. Digital natives or not, they’ve become accustomed to engaging in day-to-day communications, research, planning and entertainment using their mobile devices.
So when they start working for your store and are asked to leave their phones in the break room, chain themselves to a cash lane and wield barcode scanners that haven’t changed much since the analog era, they are instinctively aware of the enormous gap between consumer and retail technology. They can’t come up with a good reason why this disconnect exists, and you probably can’t either.
Retailers who admit there’s a problem are increasingly finding a solution in 1:1 programs, in which every store associate is outfitted with a mobile device. This gives employees the opportunity to work with more modern hardware they already know how to use. Moreover, mobile devices can be used for so much more than scanning barcodes. Sales associates can use them to take payments from customers anywhere in the store. That means they can finally untether from cash lanes and help customers at their point of decision on the floor.
Having mobile devices also changes the manner in which employees can help those customers. Suddenly, they have all the information they need at their fingertips, whether they’re a veteran employee or a brand new hire. Retailers are finally learning what schools discovered several years ago — mobile technology can be a great equalizer by dramatically impacting an individual’s chances of success.
Tailored, Effective Customer Experience
Of course, having access to more knowledgeable, versatile associates on the floor means huge benefits for customers as well. For starters, it justifies their decision to go into the store in the first place. Retail brands that don’t offer value in store beyond what the customer can get by researching online will see their brick-and-mortar sales continue to be overtaken by competitors and online channels. Equipping your sales associates is the key to stop some of the bleeding and reverse course.
The more targeted information you can arm your employees with, the better they can serve customers. If a customer has researched or bought your products online, you can and should surface this information on your store associates’ mobile devices. That way they can meet the buyer where they are in the purchasing process and add value to the information the customer has already gathered.
That’s the kind of experience that customers notice and come back for. If your competitor is outdoing you in this regard, they’ll quickly annex any trust and goodwill customers had in your brand.
Benefits to the Bottom Line
So how does a 1:1 mobile program benefit the bottom line? For starters, with store associates empowered with the information and tools they need to help customers make the right purchases the first time, return rates go down. Your training costs also decrease, because every employee can hit the ground running rather than taking one to three weeks to get up to speed and start making sales, thanks to the familiarity of the mobile device you’re providing.
And there’s an even more direct benefit — you can stop paying to upgrade your scanners and, instead, enjoy the frequent, automatic software updates that come with mobile operating systems. Your system is always secure and up-to-date with no cost and virtually no downtime needed.
Let the Competition Be Your Inspiration
Now, imagine you have beaten your biggest competitor to the punch and implemented a 1:1 program, retired your cash lanes and begun serving customers in a thoroughly tailored, modern way. How long do you think your competition will survive when you are selling more efficiently and effectively than them on a daily basis, while also keeping your employees happier? Why would any customer or employee choose their in-store experience over the more personal and knowledgeable approach you are delivering?
Modernizing your retail environment is a necessity. Smart devices have been a mainstream technology for well over a decade, and other industries have been quick to replace outdated proprietary technology and processes with the flexibility and functionality of mobile. I promise you, there are competitors in your retail niche who have taken notice and are making moves toward a mobile sales approach right now.
So think me dramatic if you’d like, but heed my advice: Begin a rapid and aggressive mobile adoption strategy for your retail brand right now. Otherwise, there might not be anything left to salvage when you decide you’re ready.
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