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5 Tips That Will Transform The Way Your Stores Operate

It’s clear to retailers that mobile technology can play a major part in streamlining these store processes and in enhancing the customer in-store experience. In fact, 77% of retailers believe that store operations will have the greatest positive impact from mobility initiatives according to a recent EKN Mobility in Retail 2014 Report. They are investing in mobility with the goal of improving workforce productivity and enhancing the customer experience. According to the same report, however, only 11% of retailers reported that they have widely implemented mobile technology in store operations. The majority of retailers have limited deployments, pilots, or are still in the strategizing phase of projects. Early adopters of mobile technology have paved the way for other retailers and have learned a few things in their journey toward truly empowering their store teams—the face of their brands—to do their jobs better.

A typical day in a retail store begins early in the morning long before customers actually arrive to shop. First on the docket, a store manager reviews KPI reports, tasks for the day, and emails from HQ. Next, he or she walks the floor to discuss sales performance information with the various department managers and collaborate on any concerns they may have. In the meantime, store associates are busy unloading trucks, ensuring that products are properly tagged and merchandised in stores, and completing tasks such as markdowns, transfers, and product recalls. Once doors are open for business, the juggling act continues with the store team trying to balance their workloads for the day with the constant pressure to deliver an outstanding customer experience, while still managing costs.

It’s clear to retailers that mobile technology can play a major part in streamlining these store processes and in enhancing the customer in-store experience. In fact, 77% of retailers believe that store operations will have the greatest positive impact from mobility initiatives according to a recent EKN Mobility in Retail 2014 Report. They are investing in mobility with the goal of improving workforce productivity and enhancing the customer experience. According to the same report, however, only 11% of retailers reported that they have widely implemented mobile technology in store operations. The majority of retailers have limited deployments, pilots, or are still in the strategizing phase of projects. Early adopters of mobile technology have paved the way for other retailers and have learned a few things in their journey toward truly empowering their store teams—the face of their brands—to do their jobs better.

Partner with the Business.

Every organization has its own challenges regarding department silos. The disconnect between what happens at headquarters verses the reality of the issues the store teams face can be especially difficult to overcome. For this reason, it is critical that the store leadership teams be involved throughout the entire development process of mobile solutions. This helps to achieve a shared sense of ownership and to ensure that these apps will actually benefit the teams intended to use them.

Start with the basics - but think big.

Obviously, it is essential that a mobile app communicate the most relevant KPIs to the store teams. Early adopters of mobile, however, are now progressing beyond their initial deployment capabilities and working to provide a one-stop shop for all of the information needs of their store managers. These retailers are achieving significant productivity gains by providing managers with the ability to access systems related to workforce management, human resources, and loss prevention directly from apps.

Build with a tablet in mind first.

Certainly, it is important to keep your end user in mind and deploy on a device that makes the most sense. Regional, district, and store managers typically require a tablet’s screen size to access all of the information and systems they need to be effective. Once the tablet version is created, it’s an easy process to provide managers or sales associates with a limited scope version of the app for their smartphones or phablets.

Don;t forget your ultimate goals.

The ultimate goal of a retailer is to run stores profitability while delivering a superior customer shopping experience. Improving productivity levels goes hand-in-hand with that concept by allowing store teams to spend more time focusing on customer service. Leading retailers know they must also provide their store associates with the mobile capabilities needed to achieve their omni-channel goals. This includes things such as mobile POS, CRM data, intelligent recommendations, inventory visibility, and the ability to process multi-channel orders.

Pay attention to the user experience.

Build apps that are not only functional but also beautiful so that your store team will want to use them. Retailers love their numbers, but don’t undermine the importance of using powerful visuals in an intuitive, clean app design. Incorporating things like gasification also goes a long way in promoting user adoption as well as boosting performance levels. Finally, remember to monitor how people use these apps and leverage that insight to make the apps even better in future iterations.

The days of store managers spending hours in their back offices, trying to piece together reports, reviewing static PDF documents, and carrying paper around the selling floor are coming to an end. Retailers are scratching the surface when it comes to utilizing mobile technology to not only improve operational efficiencies, but also to empower stores to deliver a superior, personalized customer shopping experience. With retailers beginning to experiment with technology advancements such as beacons, in-store possibilities abound and the day of the mobile enabled store has arrived.

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