Online retailers hold a crucial advantage over their physical competitors. Their customers have a wealth of knowledge readily available on the Internet, allowing them to find as much information as they want in just a few clicks. To remain competitive, physical retailers must look for their own in-store solution, or risk losing ground to their online competitors.
This solution may be closer than many think. Equipped with the right knowledge, sales associates can provide customers with all the right answers even quicker than they would find online, and with the added benefit of human interaction, making product recommendations and sharing their expertise right on the sales floor.
On the other side of the coin, if a customer perceives a store’s staff to be unknowledgeable or unhelpful, they could just as quickly take their shopping elsewhere, either online or to a competitor’s shop.
Realistically, retailers can’t expect all of their staff members to take on the burden of memorising every small detail of each product on the sales floor. The answer to this problem lies in mobile technology. By equipping sales associates with tablets or other devices, retailers can be assured their staff always have instant access to the answers their customers need.
By connecting these tablets to the business’s databases and internal applications, sales associates will always be prepared for any question the customer may have about a product. Additionally, information such as stock levels and shipping times would be accessible straight from the sales floor, meaning the staff member would not have to risk leaving the customer alone while they check with another employee or look in a back room. This allows the sales associate to stay on the floor with the customer for the entire process, explaining the features of the products with confidence.
Sales associates can also utilise the device’s high-resolution screen to display any colour options or alternative SKUs of a product the customer is interested in, eliminating the need to fetch the product from storage or guess how SKUs may differ if one is not in stock.
If the retailer has a customer relationship management system present on their databases, tablets can also add a personalised touch to the shopping experience by using the customer’s purchasing history or wish-list to inform the sales associate of any recommendations or potential upsells they can make.
To gain a competitive edge over their online and physical rivals, retailers must make best use of their sales staff, ensuring they are equipped with the right knowledge in order to present customers with an efficient and pleasing experience from the moment they step in the front door.
While physical retailers have sole claim over benefits such as human interaction, they are also at a disadvantage in one key area – queueing.
A study recently conducted by Box Technologies and Intel found that 41 per cent of shoppers have previously abandoned a purchase in order to avoid a long queue time. Even more alarming, 86 per cent of consumers surveyed said they would avoid a store altogether if they feel the queue is too long. Although online retailers are not required to address queues, physical retailers also have the ability to greatly reduce or altogether eliminate queueing in their stores.
The mobile Point of Sale system (mPoS), finally gives retailers a much sought-after cure for queues. Sales associates tablets can be enabled to process payments made via contactless debit or credit cards, directly on the sales floor. This can make a huge impact on the overall customer experience, attracting more customers, encouraging others to return and significantly reducing the amount of abandoned purchases.
In addition to the many benefits mobile devices can bring to the sales floor, equipping staff can also facilitate a number of “behind the scenes” tasks while they are not busy assisting customers or handling payments.
By connecting tablets to the retailer’s internal applications, they can be used to manage inventory, order products and check shipment details, among other tasks. Additionally, the presence of other connectivity-enabled devices in the store, such as Bluetooth printers and digital signage screens, can allow staff to print labels and receipts or manage the content displayed on digital signage monitors without having to leave the sales floor.
For retailers seeking to become more competitive in the digital world, technology can be a powerful tool. The knowledgeable workforce and satisfied customers found in the stores who have already embraced this technology are the clearest evidence one can provide of the many benefits mobile devices can give to retailers.
Raj Parmar, marketing director, Box Technologies
Image Credit: Shutterstock/Oleksiy Mark