11.14.2017 By: Bill Zujewski

New Category of In-Store Solution Emerges: Store Associate Mobility

If you’ve recently visited some of the more popular brick & mortar retailers, you’ve probably noticed store workers are using mobile devices such as iPhones and iPads to help them do their job. In many cases, the device was issued by the retailer as a single point solution: for taking payment, or checking inventory or placing an online order. In fact, the retail technology industry has created point solutions for numerous processes in the store: Mobile POS, Clienteling, Omnichannel Commerce, eLearning, Scheduling, Task Management, etc. But in most cases, once one of these solutions is deployed, store managers want more and the device quickly expands to multiple uses. In the case of early movers, this led to a mash-up of disparate point solutions, each having their own independent logins and different UIs. But in more recent times, retailers are going with a unified platform approach that integrates all the solutions seamlessly. Point solutions are being replaced with a Store Associate Mobility Platform.  

This platform consists of integrated mobile apps designed to provide associates everything they need: product information, inventory, customer information, order status, sales guidance, and personalized recommendations. The platform also includes tools to improve effectiveness and efficiency of store employees including self-paced training, black book management, task management, time card management, scheduling, automated follow-ups, appointments, and mobile checkout.  Net/net: The Store Associate Mobility Platform is a total solution focused on ALL the worker’s duties.

Tulip recently surveyed over 200 store associates to understand how they were using mobile devices to do their job. The survey found that 39% of employers issue a mobile device to store associates. Clearly we are still in the early innings of this transformation since the majority are not giving workers devices yet. But the trend is accelerating. These numbers were much lower in past surveys, but stores are beginning to realize that in order to stay relevant, equipping store associates with technology is a must.

The findings of our associate survey showed that mobile-empowered associates with access to the right customer and product information and the right mobile tools are elevating the shopper experience and building relationships to drive greater sales. There is now more evidence that retailers need to double-down on their best asset, their workers in their stores, and provide the tools necessary for store associates to add more value to the shopper’s experience. And while this survey shows the benefits of keeping a dialogue going with customers, only 17% of retailers are interacting with shoppers after they leave the store. This is a missed opportunity to update them on the status of their orders, provide information on new product arrivals, or to follow-up and check-in on customer satisfaction.

The key survey take-away: put the right tools and information in the hands of your front-line employees and they will improve their performance. It’s that simple. Progressive 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 improve service, sell more and build relationships with their customers. Retailers that have implemented mobile apps for store associates to lookup products, manage customer information, check out shoppers, and communicate with clients are seeing improved results, such as increased sales and customer satisfaction.

This “associate mobility platform approach” macro trend is impacting Tulip’s direction. Although our focus was initially on Clienteling and Endless Aisle, our apps are now covering almost the entire breadth of what associates do as part of their job. Tulip is no longer just a selling tool. It’s become a training tool, productivity tool, task management tool, collaboration and communication tool and more.  The greatest value is still driving sales, but it’s also driving store efficiency and employee productivity. 

You can download the store associate survey here.

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