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R/GA exec: Leverage mobile to make store associates smarter than today’s shopper

During the session, “The Mobile Key to the Retail Door,” the executive mentioned that store employees are essentially the real-life representation of a brand and mobile has created an atmosphere in which customers are becoming smarter than the associate when it comes to their purchases. Retailers need to develop mobile technology efforts for store associates to leverage, so they can gain a competitive edge over other retailers and better assist in-store shoppers.

“It is all about how mobile makes the overall buying experience better,” said Brad Alan, vice president of ecommerce and retail at R/GA. “We are really helping brands think about what is it about a retail space that differentiates, other than it’s a physical space with walls.

“It is the people, store associates who are the best representation of your brand,” he said. “How do we equip them to be in a place where they are more helpful and give them a tool that they can go use which will hopefully make them smarter than you, considering you have done an amazing amount of research on your mobile phone as a shopper.”

Shopping with tech

Mobile technology has given shoppers a bevy of information at their fingertips wherever they go. This means the in-store customer is more informed than ever before and will largely have more information about what he or she is looking for than the store associate.

The informed mobile-savvy shopper now creates a space that needs to be filled for retailers. Employees are how a retailer directly interacts with a customer, and leaves a face-to-face impression on them.

Consumers can now easily discover better deals and products nearby or online through their mobile devices and store associates need to better prepare for this. Developing technology such as in-store tablets or devices in which employees can see competitive deals, product information and location can be a significant asset to retailers.

Many retailers are still thinking of these divisions within retail as separate silos, but should really be shifting their focus on how mobile has changed the industry. Continuing to put all attention on ecommerce and mobile as a separate entity is missing the mark and falling short of the potential that mobile offers.

The future of retail
An executive from SITO Mobile mentioned that in the future, the retail industry should reach a point, in which shoppers enter a store and through their mobile device immediately find a product’s location, scan their loyalty card and receive a discount at checkout. However, retailers have not fully grasped this concept yet because the notion of mobile activation in stores is a fairly new concept, but should in the time to come.

“Through their mobile device, consumers should be able to walk into your store have some kind of experience that tell them where that product is and what they are looking for then that makes it really seamless,” Adam Meshekow, executive vice president of strategy and national sales at SITO Mobile.  “Then they go out, get that product and during checkout they scan your phone, some kind of loyalty is given to them, a payment is made and a discount is given to them when they walk out of the store.

“I think this is all in fragments and pieces, which is really good and really encouraging,” he said. “There are bits and pieces that are good with what is happening on mobile, but we are still in the very early stages.”

Final take
Brielle Jaekel is editorial assistant at Mobile Commerce Daily