Put the right tools and information in the hands of your front-line employees and they will improve their performance. It’s that simple. Retailers have proven that providing their store associates with a mobile device and mobile applications for assisted selling, checkout, clienteling, training, and collaboration helps them sell better, sell more and build relationships with their customers.
Tulip Retail recently surveyed over 1000 consumers to understand their experience in brick & mortar stores, specifically their experience with store associates. This survey unveiled a startling finding – 83% of shoppers believe they’re more knowledgeable than retail store associates. How disheartening for an employee to interact with customers and be in a position where they add very little value to their visit. How demotivating it must be for an associate to ask a store visitor the simple question, “Can I help you?” and then not be able to actually help the customer in the way they expect to be helped. This must be addressed by retailers – 79% of survey respondents say knowledgeable store associates are “important” or “very important”. Retailers must invest in their associates and deliver what consumers expect.
In fact, the best-in-class retailers are addressing the “knowledge gap” and the “digital divide” between consumers and workers. They are doing it with mobile devices and mobile apps designed to provide associates exactly what they need: product information, inventory, customer information, order status, sales guidance, and personalized recommendations. The best-in-class mobile apps also include tools to improve effectiveness and efficiency of their store employees including self-paced training, black book management, task management, time card management, scheduling, automated follow-ups, appointments, and mobile checkout. These next generation mobile apps for store workers are supporting ALL the things they do and providing tools to do them better.
The Tulip Retail survey had other sobering findings that should keep executives of brick & mortar retailers up at night – the fact that nearly 90% of respondents shop at Amazon and that store associates are not meeting customer expectations. There’s no doubt that the information-rich and convenient online shopping experience with easy-to-use tools for finding the right product and buying them have set the “expectation bar” very high. But this bar can be met with the right mobility technology, innovative software solutions, change management and business transformation directives from top retail executives. In fact the survey showed promising progress – 72% of consumers that dealt with a store associate who uses a mobile device to provide things like product info, credit card checkout, and inventory look-up, said it resulted in a much better shopping experience.
That’s really good news for retailers – that knowledgeable store associates are valued by shoppers, and those empowered with mobile technology are delivering better shopping experiences. Bottom line, investing in store associates needs to be a high priority. With the right tools, associates can become beacons of knowledge, trusted advisors and drive sales. They can engage customers with confidence, assist them, delight them and have them leave the store satisfied and happier than when they arrived.