Mobile technology has put shoppers in control of their buying journey. Checkout-free payments, personalized offers as soon as they set foot in a store... the list goes on.
But what about store associates? Has mobile shopping made their roles redundant?
Nope. Not even close.
Funnily enough, even with same-day delivery and click and collect, weekly shopping trips went up by 4% last year (from 40% in 2014 to 44% in 2018) according to PWC's 2018 Consumer Insights Survey.
Why? Because shoppers want something more than a convenient transaction - they want an experience.
Store teams properly resourced with mobile tech will have access to at least 3 things:
- Real-time visibility of stock/inventory
- Product details/specs and training
- Daily tasks, instructions from HQ and an overview of store KPIs
Equipping store associates with phones and tablets has changed the role of the store associate from a facilitator of transactions to an enabler of experiences.
Here are 3 reasons why.
1) Mobile saves time - time that should be spent helping shoppers.
68% of consumers surveyed in PWC's 2017 retail report cited store associates' ability to quickly check product availability in other stores as an important attribute of the in-store experience.
Store associates can do this in a flash on their trusty tablets.
Not only does real-time visibility into inventory and completing orders make the shopper's life easier, it saves the store associate time. No more running to the back room to spend 20 minutes checking every shelf for an item.
It seems like it won't be long until most stores are showrooms without much inventory, and the trips to the back room will become obsolete.
Which is a great thing for store associates, because they become experts rather than just the people behind the till.
Leading us to the next point:
2) Mobile turns store associates into knowledge workers.
78% of shoppers surveyed thought that sales associate product knowledge was critical for a good shopping experience.
83% of shoppers think they have more product knowledge than the store associates they buy from.
Unfortunately, it seems like some retailers still haven't gotten the memo.
Most of us can think of a time recently when our questions were met with a blank stare from the person working behind the till.
But store associates empowered with mobile tech never run into this issue, because the answer to a customer's question is right in the palm of their hand. And this opens up a whole new world of ways store associates can enable a memorable shopping experience, like:
- Building relationships with the regulars
- Helping indecisive shoppers make the choice that's best for them
- Reassuring shoppers with a case of buyer's remorse
- Giving recommendations that increase the value of the customer's basket
Mobile tech also removes the steep learning curve that comes with being the newest employee on the team.
Imagine trying to get the hang of dozens of new processes while worrying about running into a situation where you don't know the answers.
Store associates with instant access to all the information they need will be less hesitant to approach and interact with shoppers because they won't feel intimidated by the possibility of not being able to help.
3) Mobile tech boosts employee engagement, which translates into a better customer experience.
A store team that's properly resourced with mobile tech not only has access to product specs and inventory availability, but also instructions for daily tasks and an overview of store KPIs.
Typically, the store manager is the sole recipient of all this information, on the sole computer in the back room. It's then up to them to distribute it to the rest of the store team.
But when store associates can access this information on their mobile devices, a layer of back-and-forth is removed.
Accuracy of execution improves. Store teams can measure the impact they have have on store sales and can get the recognition they deserve.
In transparent working environments, store associates are more engaged because they have a stronger sense of purpose.
Transparency also makes the store manager's life easier, because when store associates are aware of what's expected of them it takes a load off the manager's shoulders.
Teamwork improves. The store manager has more time for coaching their team on what really matters - sales and customer service skills.
What in-store mobile tech has done is refocus the core role of the store associate on helping and inspiring shoppers, instead of merely helping them to buy.
Store operations shouldn't be hard for store associates. Request a demo to discover how you could make daily store operations faster and easier for store teams, giving them more time to focus on what really matters.