Mobile in Retail – How smart companions drive Omni-Channel conversion

In times of “Omni-channel” and “everywhere commerce”, the expectations of the customers towards the shopping experience in the store is continuously growing. Smart mobile devices can help store employees manage these challenges with ease and fun. But how can retailers make sure the smart mobile devices actually contribute to an inspiring dialogue with shoppers?

Taking the enormous number of over-excitements into consideration, it is more important than ever that the use of smart mobile devices or in fact any digital touchpoint really needs to add value to the shopping experience. As Doug Stephens puts it: “Finding the critical balance between the physical and the digital is a matter of skillful experiential design. Searching for experiential inflection points where shoppers can be physically engaged and immersed is key.” So, let us draw an exemplary way of how smart mobile devices can support an inspiring customer journey in retail.

The three biggest opportunities are:

  • Curated Shopping : inspire, show outfits or present style options to promote your brand and your products
  • From out-of-stock to save-the-sale: help customers find products in the store, in a nearby store or online
  • Seamless checkout: have all staff able to process payments

Curated Shopping:  Create attention with a digital Look Book
What is the typical answer if a sales advisor asks the question “Can I help you”? Well, obviously not many shoppers will immediately answer with a “yes, please”. Instead, we learned, that sparking customers’ inspiration by showing them certain outfits or style options on a tablet device can not only create interest but also lower the entry barrier of having a nice and trustful counselling session. So, if you have a lot of relevant content about your products in different channels – why not use this in your stores? As a bonus, you can also use product information to advice on certain features, cross-sell or up- sell.

Moving the emphasis away from product distribution and toward the delivery of a physical media experience will change the very nature of how stores are conceived, located, designed, staffed, managed and measured.” – Doug Stephens

From out-of-stock to save-the-sale: Availability Checks & Instore Orders
Never say “no” again: if a customer wants to buy a specific product, you can check the availability of certain sizes and colors directly during the conversation. If you have accurate and real-time stock information from RFID counts separated into front-store and back-room you can even check if the desired item is just a few steps away. In addition, a smart mobile device in combination with an intelligent stock management system can show you the closest store that holds that item. Just send it to the customer’s home and make them happy!

Leave with a smile: Convenient and Seamless Checkout
Many retailers invest a lot of time in educating and coaching their store staff to optimally consult their customers. However, there is very often a “break” at the end of this “journey”: the (annoying) checkout procedure. So, instead, if a sales person guides the client from the first contact up to the choice for a complete outfit why would you send this client to the queue at the checkout desk and waste his time and nerves? Instead, you can enable your “brand ambassadors” to close the deal directly at the end of perfect shopping experience and use mobile payment running on the smart mobile device.

Conclusion
In essence, I believe that the foremost reason to equip store staff with smart mobile devices should be to create personal, conversion-driven shopper journeys. In fact, I am convinced that the design, execution and measurement of experiences will be a key performance indicator for retailers in the near future.

The biggest potential lies with rethinking the role of the store and the store staff. Should they purely sell the products at hand or is their main task to promote the Omni channel brand? The latter means that selling a product can also mean to guide the shopper to a nearby store and to the web shop. By making the right content and reliable (RFID-based) stock data available to them, the store staff can stop for good to fall back on the generic opening line “Can I help you?”.

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About the author: Tom Vieweger

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