By Greg Henry, DecisionPoint Systems Inc.
With 75% of the world’s population now able to access a mobile phone, the possibilities for communication and connectivity are staggering. The right mobile solutions can dramatically improve the customer experience by giving customer-facing mobile workers the tools they need to provide instant answers and associate your brand with innovative technologies.
Every retailer, even the most resolute brick-and-mortar operator, needs to consider adopting a mobile solution to stay competitive in a changing business landscape. And while every company is different, I have a few key questions to help you figure out where to begin.
Recognize that mobile solutions will improve both sides of your retail business
As a retailer, you have two distinct audiences that will benefit from mobile technology: employees and customers. For employees, mobile solutions can streamline workflow, eliminate paperwork, and increase connectivity across departments. When it comes to customers, mobile solutions can increase customer service and interaction. Though both may seem useful and appealing, time and budget constraints typically make it wise to start with just one.
When considering where to begin, evaluate and prioritize your business needs. If your business is in need of better controls, processes and associate productivity, mobile applications that focus on employee-related functions should come first. If you are looking to improve your customer service levels, increase revenue per visit, or associate your brand with innovative technology and use cases, then you should focus on customer-facing solutions.
Cost and accessibility can also make a big difference in which kind of app you choose to pursue. Business process applications for employees require that employees have access to mobile devices and as such can be a large capital investment. On the other hand, customer-facing applications generally can be utilized by a subset of your associates and as such require a smaller investment. Size may be the key deciding factor. Studies have shown that larger companies with 500 or more employees are more focused on mobile solutions for employees, while smaller companies place priority on customer apps.
Don’t neglect branding benefits
When considering customer-facing applications, you should ask yourself a few questions including “How will my customer experience improve if my workforce is using a mobile solution? Does this offer a better way for you to receive and respond to customer needs?”
Do your customers use smartphones to access product or technical information? If they do, they probably know more about you and your competitors than you think. Empowering your mobile workers (sales people, service personnel and managers) with mobile applications not only puts you on even footing, but also enables these tech-savvy customers to identify with your brand.
Mobile technologies are becoming a crucial component to brand enhancement as these technologies and applications not only provide differentiation but deploying such popular technologies establishes a leadership position. It may not seem important initially, but many companies have seen improved brand value by replacing traditional scanners and cash registers with popular tablets, such as iPads, which improve brand recognit