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How In-Store Mobile Technologies Attract and Retain the Right Employees

The average shopper’s reliance on mobile technology is no big secret—smartphones provide an easy way to look up available coupons while browsing in-store and ask friends for opinions on which products to purchase. However, mobile technology is just as useful in attracting and retaining the best store employees through a combination of inventory-tracking tools, aisle navigation capabilities, and smart fitting room experiences.

Retailers seeking to digitize or revamp their brick-and-mortar storefronts must place an emphasis on investing in these types of technologies to ensure that associates are armed with as much product information as possible, therefore making them better able to serve customers.

Inventory information: By equipping all front-of-house in-store employees with company-issued smartphones or tablets, retailers can get a better grasp on inventory levels and simultaneously provide the employees with relevant product information. Several brands – including Dick’s Sporting Goods – are already employing this strategy. Employees’ tablets regularly update with the latest inventory numbers, enabling them to keep popular items always stocked and inform customers if a desired style or size is no longer available in store. Instead of bringing the customer over to a computer and spending several minutes searching through store-specific data, mobile-equipped associates can answer these types of important product questions without ever leaving the aisle. Even more importantly, they can place an on-the-spot order for an item that is no longer available in store and cinch the sale before getting to the cash register.

Aisle navigation: Adding aisle navigation capabilities to a company-issued mobile device can be a major help in onboarding new associates and making them feel comfortable in their new work environment. If a shopper asks a new employee where the running sneakers can be found, for instance, he or she can consult the mobile map and bring the customer directly to the right aisle. Aisle navigation features are also effective during peak shopping times, when store inventory is regularly rotated.

Conversely, offering these features directly to customers frees up time for busy employees. Target first rolled out in-app aisle navigation capabilities for Black Friday several years ago, a move that allowed frenzied shoppers to pinpoint the exact locations of their desired doorbusters and skip the process of asking a store associate for directions.

Smart fitting rooms: Instead of assigning several employees to man the fitting rooms, retailers can adopt smart fitting room technology that enables customers to change the lighting, as well as place different size or style requests, which are then routed to a nearby associate’s mobile device. This lets shoppers enjoy a seamless in-store experience, and allows associates to give customers more space, unless otherwise asked. Perhaps more importantly, smart fitting room technology offers even more value to the brand itself—by giving it a holistic view at customer behaviors. The retailer will be able to measure the average time spent in a fitting room by a customer, and also discover which products are being tried on most frequently, which can help inform future inventory orders.

Individuals seeking employment in the retail industry will increasingly be on the lookout for in-store mobile technologies that enhance both the associate and customer experiences. These digital features have the ability to not only attract new talent to retail stores, but also retain it once it is there—an invaluable competency in today’s economy.

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Alex Samuely, Contributor

Alex is a marketing and communications professional with extensive experience in analyzing digital and mobile marketing trends. She has also covered brand-oriented mobile strategies spanning the retail, travel, financial services, and food and beverage industries.

Topics: mobile technology