EMS deploys iPads in stores to guide customer experience

Outdoor apparel and gear retailer Eastern Mountain Sports is rolling out iPads in its stores that leverage its existing point-of-sale, ecommerce and store systems.

The roll out follows a successful pilot in four stores that took place last year. The iPads are equipped with VeriFone’s GlobalBay iPad solution that enables a suite of mobile retail software for retailer-to-consumer interaction, including videos and other content.

“It allows us to engage customers anywhere in the store and help them find the right product,” said Scott Barrett, vice president of ecommerce at EMS, Peterborough, NH. “We put all sorts of content from videos, to product specs so we can help ‘guide’ the customers to find the right product. 

“For example, in our Upper Westside store in Manhattan – we carry a variety of snowshoes – but we don’t have the space to carry our full line of products,” he said. “With the iPad we can show them other options beyond what’s on the floor – and help them find the right product or size.

“The beauty of the VeriFone Global Bay solution is that it’s flexible to support customization that we can do ourselves – so we are trying out new uses and new apps. After hours, we can use the iPad apps we build to push out training content.”

A flexible tool
While some retailers have mounted the iPads on stands, at EMS the iPads are being used on the floor of stores as a roving tool.

The VeriFone GlobalBay app is central to EMS’ efforts to provide a strong customer experience by improving the interaction between store associates and consumers.

“Everyone is in the early learning phase of how best to deploy this – we really like the flexibility to tweak and even update content as needed,” Mr. Barrett said.

EMS’ in-store expert guides are already trained to offer advice to shoppers about the gear and apparel found in its stores. Equipped with iPads, they will now also be able to outfit shoppers from the full line of products that the retailer offers, including what’s available in store as well as online.

The retailer expects to be able to drive additional sales as a result.

“We are seeing a sizable number of ecommerce transactions pushed through these devices – if you think about those, they would have likely been likely ‘lost sales’ or they represent upsell to products not available,” Mr. Barrett said.

“We also see ROI from pushing out training in a cost-effective and centralized manner and finally, and less tangible but no less important is the customer satisfaction – our customers love it as do our sales associates,” he said. “It’s a big differentiator and empowers our employees.”

EMS will also test an iPad credit card reader from VeriFone that has secure credit card and bar code scanning.

“Mobile also opens up opportunities to look at selling in other locations and beyond our store format,” Mr. Barrett said.

“EMS will be on the forefront of deploying new technologies that make sense. So far the iPad solutions make a lot of sense,” he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York