Is mobile technology really mobile if it cannot move?
That is the question we'd ask a fashion retailer whose management recently became interested in deploying iPads as mobile clienteling and POS tools. They put them out on the sales floors, which is a good thing, but then they glued them to stands, which seems very counter-productive.
In doing this, they dipped a toe into the ocean of mobile commerce, but then they seemed afraid to get all the way in the water. By attaching mobile devices to podiums, this creates a collection of handy information terminals for sales associates to use to solve customer problems. But then they removed the mobile part – and mobile is the heart of modern relationship retailing.
When a sales associate is mobile enabled, he can move through the store as needed, walking along with the customer or approaching when a question needs to be answered. Using a tablet, the associate has all the essential data about the customer in hand – information that can be transformed into knowledge and guidance to further the sale and optimize the customer experience.
You might ask, “What’s the difference between a hand-held tablet and one mounted on a stand? They can both deliver the same data.” Well, the difference is huge.
A tablet on a stand is a fixture – a formalized part of the store, like a clothing rack or a cash register. It is physical. It is solid. It does not move. The customer and the sales associate have to go to where it is located to benefit from the information it contains. This limits the customer to the physicality of the store. It breaks the spell that unobstructed browsing can create, and pulls people back to reality with a thud.
Retailers can fully reveal the magic of their mobile commerce solution only when they help customers move away from the solidity of the brick-and-mortar store and offer them a borderless and limitless approach to shopping. The sales associate and the store should swirl seamlessly around each shopper, providing guidance, contextual information, and an effortless payment procedure that removes restricted formality from the equation and replaces it with a unique and pleasant experience – one that cannot be replicated online.
Retailers can be forgiven temporarily for their prejudices. The idea that a sales associate using a tablet or smartphone is in some way disconnected from the customer is completely backward. Many people carry their phones with them 90% of each day. They have become an essential component of life. In the same way that customers are using their devices to enhance the shopping process, sales associates can use them for the same purpose.
The retail floor has changed, and with it, the behavior of relationship retailing. A more productive interaction is facilitated when two people and their devices collaborate together, anywhere in the store that is fast and convenient. And, no one needs a tablet PC bolted to an unmoving fixture for that.
Download our 30-minute webinar with Phil Granof, CMO, NewStore as he discusses why empowering your brand ambassadors (aka store associates) with mobile is what's missing in your relationship retailing strategy. Register here>>