Omnichannel retailers know their best opportunity to compete with online pure-plays is to make their stores more relevant, useful and engaging to the customer. But it can be difficult to know where to spend precious budget dollars to truly impact store performance. Savvy early adopters have identified one retail technology investment that is delivering a clear return on investment (ROI): associate mobile devices.
NCR and IHL Group reported an impressive 77 percent higher sales growth among retailers providing mobile sales tools for staff. Sales are 92 percent higher for mobile points of sale (POS). Mobile tools deliver those results by removing the roadblocks that have prevented stores from converting more store visits into sales, boosting key metrics including gross margin, associate productivity, volume and total revenue.
Where Mobile Device ROI Comes From
Today’s stores face a range of issues that challenge profitability, including rising labor costs, high workforce turnover, lengthy new hire training and inadequate revenue per associate. Many retailers are working diligently to address these, but are overlooking a key opportunity for improvement: outdated store associate sales techniques.
Today’s consumer has rapidly adapted to instant access to information, but that’s not what they get in many encounters with a sales associate. Even top salespeople often need to leave a customer waiting while they go check stock, look up product information, consult a colleague or process the transaction. Any delay in receiving timely, high quality service costs retailers in lost sales.
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Mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets empower the associate to give customers their undivided attention, accessing all the data they need to understand and address the customer’s needs on the spot. More uninterrupted face-time with the customer means they spend more and leave more satisfied. The bottom-line impact of that transformation is dramatic, converting more of those potential buyers into satisfied buyers. Research has found that a substantial 84 percent of shoppers want store associates to carry handheld mobile devices to provide customer service.
How Associate Mobile Delivers Rapid ROI
There are many ways equipping each associate with a mobile device delivers a quick ROI, including both hard and soft benefits:
- Quickly matching a customer need to a product via personalized product recommendations, rich media demos, screen sharing and configuration tools. This increases the chance that the customer will find the right product and convert: 94 percent of buyers tend to buy more when they have live interactions with a knowledgeable employee. A positive sales experience also fosters upselling.
- Checking enterprise-wide real-time inventory to quickly locate a size, color or model in the store or network, access endless aisle for extended sizes, accessories and related products, and then arrange for delivery. This saves a sale that would have moved to a competitor. It also increases sell-through at full price, since wanted inventory is not languishing in the wrong locations and ultimately getting marked down.
- Enabling omnichannel services such as buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS); ship from store; or picking up right where the customer’s digital shopping session left off. The ability to deliver efficient omnichannel services is mission critical. For example, according to Gartner L2, Target’s in-store pickup options boosted sales of 60 percent more items during holiday 2018, contributing to a 5.7 percent store growth rate in December 2018, up from 3.4 percent the previous year.
- Delivering discounts and personalized offers based on customer identity and loyalty status, increasing the likelihood of conversion. Customers are also more likely to return: BRP found 79 percent of consumers say personalized service from a sales associate is an important factor for determining where to shop.
- Supporting inventory accuracy. Inventory accuracy is critical, because stock-outs increase frustration and friction for both shoppers and associates. When you equip associates with mobile devices, they can instantly switch to inventory tasks to help ensure that popular products remain in stock.
- Instant checkout using mobile POS apps to get customers on their way. Retailer leaders — those with the best sales results — are 150 percent more likely to be using mobile POS than everyone else, according to IHL.
- Increased profitability due improved employee engagement. Gallup’s employee engagement survey consistently shows that engaged employees produce better business outcomes than other employees do.
- Better training. Mobile devices are an excellent platform to deliver sales associate training in short, digestible segments to better connect ideas to real-world experiences. Retailers can use near-field communications (NFC) to initiate contextual, on-demand training that helps new associates learn merchandise and strategies from Day One.
Revenue and Conversions for Fast ROI
Consumers come to stores with a purpose, which is usually to make a purchase. By empowering associates with better insights and capabilities delivered by mobile technology, retailers can provide the seamless, frictionless experience that customers want. The desired products will be on hand more often, because the staff will manage inventories more closely. Associates will have faster, easier access to information and insights, which will make store visits more successful for shoppers and associates alike.