Retailers are certainly attuned to the importance of mobile technology in today’s store environment. Customers who live mobile-enabled, “constantly connected” lifestyles expect the seamless mobile-physical overlap that exists in other parts of their lives to also be readily available when they enter a store.
However, when designing an in-store mobile experience, retailers typically focus their efforts squarely on the software side of the equation. Brad Fick, president, partner and co-founder of in-store technology provider Direct Source, recently took some time to discuss why retailers need to pay more attention to the role mobile hardware plays in the modern store landscape.
Are retailers ignoring the continuing importance of hardware to store operations?
Now more than ever, retailers understand the importance of hardware to store operations. Omnichannel retail strategies have expanded beyond simply knowing how the consumer shops. They have transformed into understanding how to use digital signage, messaging, in-aisle assistance and checkout solutions that equate to customer satisfaction, sales and purchasing. These are all key drivers in helping retailers predict future behavior.
What should retailers look for when selecting in-store technology hardware solutions?
Mobile payments will always be a key driver for most retailers, enabling them to assist shoppers from anywhere in the store. Line busting, price checkers, store maps and brand management are all added benefits to upgrading and installing customized in-store technologies. Other critical factors include ease of use for store associates, decreased training times and intuitive applications.
How can retailers leverage mobile hardware solutions to improve the in-store customer experience?
Retailers are currently exploring how consumers interact with their brands prior to having an in-store shopping experience. For example, knowing how consumers use digital channels such as websites, smartphones, tablets and social media to research the retailer’s product service offerings can drive how retailers market and interact with customers.
Understanding customer expectations for both the digital and in-store experience, whether consumers prefer to shop independently or want a sales associate to greet them and provide service, is now a significant focus for retailers. Many retailers are also equipping associates with mobile devices that provide access to detailed, interactive data, allowing them to provide a personalized in-store experience to the consumer.
What are the advantages of renting, as opposed to purchasing, in-store hardware solutions?
As retailers adapt to mobile trends, they are learning that staying ahead of technology can mean upgrading devices every six to nine months. Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) makes cost justification easier, while enabling chain-wide rollouts of the newest devices. Benefits to these programs include flexibility, buyback programs, trade-ins for existing hardware, fair market leasing and recycling. For any program such as these, it is best to have a partner that can help manage the financial aspects so retailers can focus on the consumer and their needs.
How does Direct Source help retailers meet their in-store hardware solution needs?
Direct Source takes a consultative approach to uncovering the right technology solution for each retailer, using its goals, objectives, future strategy, pain points, and retail initiatives and requirements as a guide. Our long history in the retail sector means that we can provide unbiased and in-depth product knowledge and reviews. We also focus on delivering solutions that are designed to future-proof technology investments.
To stay current with the rapidly evolving technology and mobile trends, we work closely with our manufacturing and technology partners. We also work with retailers to create a digital map of how consumers use digital tools and devices to shop even before walking through the door.
We help retailers determine what they can do with consumer insight around these behaviors and how it directly impacts the store footprint. The team then works directly with the major mobility companies to design new products for the retailer’s needs.