Tech Guest Viewpoint: The Modern Retailer’s Secret Weapon
Retailers are continually on a quest to find innovative technologies to help deepen customer engagement with their brand.
Yet, perhaps the most critical part of the buying journey happens when a consumer puts down her device and looks for a human being she can talk with about solving her problem – something that even the most engaging technology can’t provide by itself.
When that consumer walks into your store, where 90% of final buying decisions still occur, will she get the kind of human experience that will persuade her to make a purchase?
It’s why a technology-enabled, engaged associate, confidently armed with relevant data and information is the secret weapon in every retailer’s quest for a seamless buying experience. Providing associates with mobile POS devices is a top technology priority, and the first step for retailers looking to create better in-store experiences. Because the best way to combat technology’s disruptive influence on buying experiences is to arm your staff with the right technology and the training to empower relevant and informative in-store interactions and sales.
To drive better customer interactions, store associates not only need to be equipped with mobile devices, but they need access to better information from those devices. Once a harmonized back-end system based around order, item, inventory and customer data is in place, retailers have a huge opportunity to transform the POS into a point-of-engagement system. POS systems built on a retail platform lend insight across all customer channels, as well as real-time visibility into the customer’s activity and product information across those channels. Armed with mobile POS devices, your sales associates can determine product availability, from anywhere in the store, as well as estimated delivery dates if the product has to be shipped.
Also, those devices can push information to sales associates, such as KPIs and alerts, to keep them ahead of sales trends and allow them to offer alternative products.
With a mobile POS in hand, the associate can scan products, look at it digitally and share the screen with the customer to complete the sale. That kind of quick, personalized service and value is likely to overshadow the impulse of customers browsing in-store and leaving to later buy online at a lower price from a competitor.
Ideally, the sales associate also has access to a customer’s ecommerce shopping cart and wish lists, and can add those items to in-store purchases. Staff can also add items to an e-commerce wish list that a customer considered but didn’t buy. With this information, the sales associate can start building rich customer profiles in real time that can be used during subsequent in-store visits.
All of this success hinges on having the right information to push to these devices. For too many retailers, the reality of legacy products bolted together creates disparate data, systems that can’t talk to one another, and manual processes that will impact everyone from headquarters to storefronts. Break free of letting systems drive customer experiences. Work toward a single, standardized view of the customer, inventory and order information that supports a seamless customer experience – one that ends with a sale by your technology-enabled associate.
Matt Rhodus is Retail Industry Solutions Executive for NetSuite.
Matt, I completely agree with your take on not letting the technology dictate your customer experience. It's the "bright shiny object" issue. How we can make the newest technology fit into our customer experience is about the worst thing we can do. However, equipping associates with technology relies on the fact that your foundational elements of technology are solid. Robust store networks, all channel data accessible from one place and accurate inventory available for display on associate devices. We also have to start discussing the "never ending" transaction and I believe that NetSuite is positioning tge Company to achieve that.