How mobile can boost customer satisfaction
Mobile devices have radically changed the retail landscape. From customers’ perspectives, these tools empower them with the freedom to truly shop anywhere, and at any time. Whether they’re using tablets on their couches or phones while taking public transportation, they can initiate a shopping experience.
From the retailer’s perspective, mobile devices have had an even bigger impact. Merchants are seeing more use behind-the-scenes in warehouses, with backroom employees using these devices to pick and stock products. From the front end, they can be used as everything from endless aisle devices that allow customers to make purchases from online stores to point-of-sale terminals by cashiers.
While mobile devices bring so much value to the table, it is clear that many retailers are still in the early phases of implementing these tools. They know all about how effective tablets and smartphones can be, but they are not making the necessary investments. Or if they are, the implementation and integration of these devices into workflow has been on the slower side of things. Merchants just are not capitalizing on smartphones and tablets like they should, Mike Barrow, vice president of retail at Tommy Bahama, told Retail Solutions Online.
“The bigger surprise is that so many retailers are behind the curve on mobile, or are only looking to mobile as a line-busting tool vs. a selling tool,” Barrow explained. “Retailers need to look for software and systems that become experience drivers and give customers a reason to come to their brick-and-mortar locations. With eCommerce taking hold in a bigger way, stores can be a great extension of the initial online engagement. Mobile POS is becoming an expectation, not a differentiator. I think retailers should be looking to what the next big thing is after mobile that will resonate with their customers and get ahead of that now.”
Bolstering the customer experience with mobile devices
The big problem is that many retailers do not see how many uses mobile devices can have, particularly in regard to bolstering customer service. It is easy to focus too much on one aspect, such as using tablets as mobile cash registers, that merchants lose track of the other benefits. A classic instance of being unable to see the forest through the trees, if you will.
Perhaps the greatest use of mobile devices is as sales aids. By arming sales floor associates with tablets or smartphones, merchants are giving these individuals the power to better serve their customers, thus bolstering satisfaction and maybe securing a few additional sales merchants may have missed otherwise.
For example, if a customer approaches a sales associate with a mobile device, the employee could enter in his or her name and get a complete order history. This allows the associate to answer questions and make relevant suggestions. Imagine, for instance, if a customer wanted to buy the next book in a series but could not remember which ones he or she had. If employees look up his or her purchase history, they could quickly recommend the next book to the individual.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. With many retailers looking to reduce their physical space, employees could use tablets to show customers products stored in regional distribution centers. They could answer inquiries about when new shipments of products will be in or check reward points on the fly. There are numerous different possibilities, but they all start by making use of mobile devices.