About 89% of retailers plan to put mobile solutions in the hands of their store associates over the next three years, according to new research from Boston Retail Partners.
The BP Special Report – The Mobile World of Retail states that retailers are expanding the use of mobile technology by giving associates mobile devices and apps with specific aims to use them for customer identification, customer engagement, associate training and task management, point of sale (POS) and payments.
Regarding those last two, the report also found that about 84% of retailers will use mobile point-of-sale systems in their stores by 2020, and that acceptance of mobile payments by retailer is increasing rapidly with fewer retailers taking a wait and see approach.
As more reports highlight the benefits of arming associates with mobile tools, it's encouraging that nearly all retailers surveyed in this report will prioritize the measure over the next three years. Though let's hope for their sake that most of that group will make significant strides over the next year or so. The way brick-and-mortar stores are closing, some of these retailers may not be able to wait toward the end of that three-year span.
In fact, the percentage actually makes you wonder what the remaining 11% have in mind if they are not planning to take advantage of mobile devices and apps for store associates' use.
Another recent survey from Tulip Retail showed that many customers believed they were more knowledgeable than many store associates. Mobile devices and apps that connect to inventory details — including inventory outside the walls of the store itself — and help store associates more efficiently communicate with co-workers could be the difference maker.
Some retailers don't just have this sort of plan on the drawing board; they are already doing it. Crate and Barrel, for example, has aggressively invested in tablet-based apps for its employees. For some retailers, equipping store associates with mobile technology is just one piece of their broader strategies to revamp what the in-store experience is all about. The adoption of mobile POS and mobile payments acceptance are other pieces of those strategies. These plans are all about giving customers the kinds of experiences they want when they come into stores. Those experiences include mobile support, not just for themselves, but for the store associates as well.