Despite increasing adoption of mobile devices for in-store employees, retailers still face major challenges blocking them from getting the most out of the technology, including a lack of proper applications and lack of staff to help manage the devices, according to a survey from IHL Group and Stratix, a provider of managed mobile solutions for organizations.
About 47% those surveyed said they have mobile devices for store managers, while 34% have adopted mobile point-of-sale solutions and 26% said already have, or were close to enabling shopper self-checkout via mobile.
However 42% said they have mobile devices in-store, but without mobile POS functions that can be used by store associates. Furthermore, more than 75% of survey respondents said they lack the right applications to make mobile successful for them, according to the report "Retail’s Top 5 Challenges When Deploying Mobile."
Far and away the biggest challenge for retailers in mobile adoption is lack of proper applications, chosen by 75.2% of respondents, but here are the other four in that top five: Lack of staff to manage mobile devices (60.3%), lack of support and help desk assistance for internal mobile users (59.5%), EMV certification problems or lack of good payment options (47%) and difficulties managing and monitoring mobile security (45%).
Giving store employees mobile devices, even ones without specialized retail apps, has its advantages, such as allowing employees to check a store's website and conduct searches as they are speaking with customers. But, customer expectations move quickly, and they may soon expect a "mobilized" store manager or associate to do much more, like allow them to pay via mobile POS. In introducing devices without that capability, it's worth wondering if some retailers are clinging to the notion of the traditional checkout process retaining some value. With so much focus on creating a frictionless checkout, retailers need to understand that mobile POS offers one path to get there.
It's true that in-store mobile is still a fairly new concept to retailers, so it's not surprising that shortage of management and help desk support is any issue at this stage. Retailers may be in a hurry to get the devices into store employee's hands, but they need to also reassure employees — and customers — that there is a depth of infrastructure backing up that device.
Meanwhile, EMV certification is an all too predictable problem that doesn’t have much to do with mobile specifically, although ongoing EMV certification delays may certainly affect the ability for retailers to take the next step with mobile POS.
The challenge of managing and monitoring mobile security is a significant issue, however, and it’s a little surprising that more survey respondents didn’t see it as such. Retailers can’t deploy mobile throughout their stores and then act as though mobile security can be addressed at a later date.
A survey by Tulip Retail late last year suggested store employees are well aware that they are often not as well-armed with mobile technology as many of their customers. This new study parses things out a bit more, showing that while more retailers are starting to embrace the idea of enabling their stores and employees to better leverage mobile technology, they may not have worked out of the details just yet.