Almost 50% of store associates surveyed recently by Tulip Retail admit shoppers are sometimes more knowledgeable about the store’s products than they are, although they also believe they would be in a better position to help shoppers with assistance from mobile technology during shopper interactions, according to a Tulip press release.
About 61% of store associates said they are not armed with mobile devices, and only 17% said they were actively interacting with customers and expanding the relationship outside of in-store interactions, the survey results showed.
Also, approximately 44% of store associates said they spend too much of their time folding clothes and stocking shelves – tasks that take away from time spent engaging with customers.
These survey results quite literally provide a flip side view of the results from a similar survey that Tulip conducted with shoppers earlier this year, in which 83% of shoppers surveyed said they are often more knowledgeable about products in stores they visit than the store associates who they interact with in those stores.
In both surveys, respondents said they felt that giving store associates mobile devices that could access inventory information and customer histories, and carry out other functions, could help remedy the situation. Nearly a third of store associates in the most recent survey said they don’t have the ability to look up store inventory in real time, and about 40% said they can only look up inventory that’s currently in stock in the physical retail location, highlighting the missed opportunity to order online in the store to save sales on out-of-stock items.
When asked which option they would find most beneficial in an assisted mobile tool, 40% chose looking up inventory in-store, at other locations and online, while 22% said access to detailed product information would provide the biggest benefit. About 14% said the ability to make price and product comparisons would be most useful. Of course, the ultimate point to take away here is that all of these capabilities would allow store associates to better serve customers.
The good news — if you want look for positives — is that about 39% of associates now possess those necessary mobile devices. As we have seen from deployments by retailers such as Target and Frank+Oak (a Tulip customer), retailers are starting to understand that putting more mobile technology in the hands of associates could potentially lead to more sales and better customer retention.
The next step is getting associates to use the devices for more than just inventory look-up. About 65% of respondents in this survey said they never text or e-mail customers after they leave the store. That’s a missed opportunity to improve service and help expand customer relationships. Mobilizing store associates isn’t the only key to surviving the retail apocalypse, but it could be the equivalent of providing weapons to an army that up to this point has been sent into battle unarmed.