Employee mobile retail apps: The best gift that retailers can give this holiday season

By Alisa Maclin

Employees and their customers want more mobile this holiday season. Research shows that 58 percent of consumers find that mobile-equipped retail staffers enhance their customer’s in-store experiences. And, with mobile-enabled stores converting 68 percent of their out-of-stock incidents into home-delivery sales, both retailers and shoppers are coming out winners with the help of employees empowered by employee mobile retail apps.

Shoppers love the breadth and immediacy of information in their online experiences — something in-store shopping all-to-often fails to deliver. Employee mobile apps can bridge the gap between customers’ growing expectations and retail’s current reality by ensuring in-store customers receive comparable convenience, personalization, and access to information like that of online customers.

While 2017 has seen a record number of store closings, it shouldn’t be overlooked that this year has also seen an even higher record number of store openings. Surprised? While the store experience still clearly remains appealing to consumers, continued relevance will depend on in-store experiences meeting or exceeding online alternatives. Further, the physical and digital experiences must be interconnected for a streamlined customer journey. Next generation mobile apps for retail can help accomplish exactly that by enabling employee mobile experiences that empower employees to create the best, consistent in-store experiences for their customers.

In-store experiences need revitalization

Consumers expect store associates to have all the answers — or at least more than they might find themselves doing a quick search on their mobile device in the store. This information sought after by customers often falls beyond the typical retail employee’s purview. Sadly, 63 percent of store associates say they regularly resort to making up explanations to customers to dodge questions they can’t answer. And, because of this, 40 percent of consumers choose to find products on their own more quickly by shopping online to avoid ill-informed staff.

Even when shopping online, consumers can still encounter in-store problems when they opt for in-store pick-up. In fact, 45 percent of click-and-collect orders placed during the 2016 holiday shopping period had some issues according to JDA. Customers received the wrong items, orders were canceled because of out-of-stock inventory, and order ready notifications weren’t consistently sent. When customers showed up at the store for their orders, employees didn’t have the resources or access to the order information or customer insights they needed to provide the best experiences.

Mobile apps can transform the in-store retail experience

In order to avoid these scenarios and stay relevant in an increasingly connected world, retailers need a digital enablement strategy that is designed to deliver superior personalized experiences. Employee mobile retail apps help join together the conveniences of online shopping with the in-store purchasing experience.

IBM MobileFirst for iOS – Retail provides your company with next-generation employee mobile retail apps that are designed to better align to and solve the real-world challenges that retailers face. Powered by enterprise data and analytics that are delivered to your fingertips through iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch, IBM MobileFirst for iOS apps give retailers more power from the warehouse to the sales floor.

Mobile solutions, like IBM MobileFirst for iOS, can help you:

  • Streamline the buying process through the use of real-time data.
  • Keep customers shopping by giving them a place to view or purchase products or get assistance from a store associate.
  • Stay on top of inventory by getting real-time perspective and data-driven recommendations on products and vendors.
  • Make schedule changes by automating the process and allowing employees to transparently swap shifts.

This holiday shopping season, don’t get caught with disgruntled customers or frazzled salespeople. With employee mobile retail apps, you can give the gift that keeps on giving, for shoppers and employees alike.

This article was originally published on Mobile Business Insights.