Mobile payments still stuck in neutral
Consumers love using their smartphones when shopping — with one big exception.
A new study by GfK shows that the adoption of mobile payments in the U.S. – and globally – remains low. Just 17% of U.S. consumers have used their smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device to pay for a product (including payments via services like PayPal and Venmo) in the past six months. This compares to 29% in the Asia Pacific region, and the global average of 19%.
However, payments via mobile may pick up going forward. Twenty-eight percent of U.S. consumers said they “look forward to … pay[ing] for more and more transactions” via mobile devices – almost double the 2017 level of 17%.
In other findings, the new FutureBuy report from GkK revealed that 45% of all U.S. consumers believe that their smartphones and/or tablets are “quickly becoming [their] most important” shopping tools. That’s higher than the 2017 level of 29%) – a leap of roughly one-third in just one year.
The number-one use of smartphones during the shopping process is comparing prices, cited by 36% of mobile shoppers. Other common smartphone tasks include gathering product information (30%) and checking product reviews (30%
“The desire or need to shop is often spontaneous, and most consumers have their smartphones nearby at all times,” said Joe Beier, executive VP of consumer insights at GfK. “So it is no surprise that mobile technology is playing a growing – and increasingly complex – role in shopper journeys. While shopping online overall is driven largely by a search for savings, the mobile component is often about research on-the-go. And we should not see traditional retail as somehow pitted against the mobile element; often they work together – and those who can deliver a seamless experience will be more likely to capture the sale.”
City Furniture takes steps to protect customer data
City Furniture is protecting store-level customers from the damaging impact of identity theft.
By adopting Intellicheck’s fraud prevention app Retail ID Mobile, City Furniture has access to real-time customer identification authentication that prevents fraud, while still enabling the company to provide a seamless customer experience. The solution is currently being used in the company’s 29 locations across Florida, including the company’s newly unveiled showroom and warehouse in Ocoee.
The app is deployed on iPads used by store associates. The technology supplies real-time identification authentication that is 99.9% effective, and eliminates the need for point-of-sale system integration. It also eliminates tedious customer delays during checkout, but still prevents criminals from stealing customers data — information that criminals use to fraudulently obtain credit and debit cards or open new credit accounts to use to make large purchases.
“Millions of Americans have their identities stolen at every type of retailer each day, including furniture stores,” said Garry Ikola, City Furniture’s VP of sales. “We are putting a stop to it happening at City Furniture. With this tool, criminals can no longer use stolen identification information to make fraudulent transactions that result in devastating financial harm to the victims of these crimes.”
How to Empower Your Workforce to Create Repeat Loyalists
No industry faces disruption as acutely as retail right now. Online-only retailers are challenging every piece of a retail puzzle that has not changed much in the last century. How do traditional retailers grow market share and revenue? Upon first glance, faster shipping and more customized in-store experiences seem like the most obvious answers. There is one critical component that retailers tend to overlook, however: workforce productivity.
Some describe it as having the right people with the right skills doing the right work. I prefer to visualize it as a handful of factors simultaneously moving in the right direction – talent, technology, culture, benefits, well-being and workplace satisfaction. Each element contributes to the success of the others. When they are all pulled together correctly, they fit together beautifully and help drive the overall success of the organization.
If those same components are disjointed and moving in different directions, or if there are gaps, workforce productivity can plummet and the whole organization suffers.
In the retail sector, the living operation is especially dependent on the efficiency of all moving pieces working in conjunction with each other. On the surface, it’s clear that robust technology, sales associates’ knowledge and collaborative culture within a retail location contribute to a positive and efficient experience for shoppers. When we pull back the curtain, however, we see that what’s happening in the back office, not visible to the customer, are often the most important factors to running a smooth operation and staying up with the competition.
I believe in the power of a great in-store experience, and I take pride in helping retailers strategize and align all of those moving pieces so each customer that walks through the doors has a positive experience.
Here are a few ways that retailers can enhance workforce productivity to stay ahead of the changing industry.
Double-down on technology available to associates. Historically, retailers have survived through manual effort, but that needs to change. Handheld devices in the stores enable associates to quickly deliver the experience and instant answers that customers have become accustomed to. A one-to-one associate-to-device ratio is necessary, but even more so is making sure all employees are comfortable with the technology. Tech-savvy associates will outperform others who are not as proficient, which will cause more workplace riffs than healthy competition. Retailers must prioritize and invest in proper training, which will lead to happier associates with better performance, and, eventually, less turnover.
Intuitive interface design from the sales and marketing departments can be applied to internal systems. In other words, the same approach sales and marketing takes when designing websites and mobile apps for customers can be just as valuable when it comes to helping associates find orders and mitigate inventory problems on their in-store devices. The best part is that the technology is already developed; it just takes a mindset shift to enable the employees.
Build an intuitive network. When a network anticipates the needs of an associate based on the current environment of the store, that associate can save time by minimizing the number of clicks to get the information he or she needs. For example, wayfinding technology on an employee’s handheld device tracks his or her location and can automatically pull up inventory from that portion of the store – easily searchable for any shopper needs. Taking away the hunt for information increases associate satisfaction, allows more time for more interaction in the store and ultimately creates a more seamless customer experience.
Armed with the right tools and mindset, traditional retailers can reimagine their purpose to compete in this new environment. Thinking of their stores as both showrooms and a convenient way for their customers to quickly get their hands on product paves the way for staying relevant for the customers who have become accustomed to personalized interactions and instant service from online retailers.
As the retail world morphs with the changing needs of the consumer, brick-and-mortar stores have the advantage of face-to-face customer interaction that can turn one-time shoppers into repeat loyalists. Leveraging that advantage means operating as efficiently as possible to compete with online-only retailers. Workforce productivity and the right technology will make or break that effort to survive and thrive amid the disruption.
Jeremy Witikko is senior retail practice advisor at Cisco.