Commentary: Seven ways mobile devices can benefit retail operations

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Commentary: Seven ways mobile devices can benefit retail operations

By Alexa Lemzy - 04/01/2019
Retailers should be well aware by now of the benefits a mobile-friendly approach can bring to your customer experience.

But what about the experience of you and your team? Here are seven major areas where using mobile devices in-store can benefit your retail operations:

1. Internal communications
Mobile device support can greatly improve your internal communications by allowing your managers to easily share critical information and updates with their teams.

Do you have an urgent situation - such as running out of stock or introducing store policy changes? An update via your employee app or a message through a bulk SMS provider can quickly and easily alert all of your staff without taking your managers away from their other duties, and even track a stock delivery for you.

2. Sales empowerment
One of the customer advantages of brick-and-mortar retail is the availability of smart recommendations from knowledgeable staff. However, staff turnover in retail is consistently high, making it a constant challenge to keep your team well-informed on every product. Providing detailed product information and stock levels to your staff via mobile device allows them to help customers and answer their queries without making them wait.

With a mobile-friendly approach, your sales team can check customer information, purchase history, and take payment anywhere in the store. In addition, cutting-edge payment systems like Amazon Go offer an incredibly streamlined process that dramatically improves the purchasing process by allowing customers to simply take what they want and just walk out. The technology hasn’t been around long enough to be proven yet, but it is definitely one to watch.

3. Ease of use
Which do you think your employees can operate better, their own smartphone which they use every day, or your tired old office computer that’s still running Windows XP? Ease of use is one of the most significant factors in the success of smartphones. Whatever systems and capabilities your staff needs, there will certainly be a mobile app that does it easier and faster.

4. Budgeting
Paying for multiple desktops or laptops for in-store use is a waste of money. Each of your employees comes to work every day with a device many times more powerful already in their pocket. Bring your own device (BYOD) is as popular with employees as it is with your accountants. Even simple equipment like barcode scanners can be replaced by a mobile app!

5. Scheduling
Shift scheduling can be a major source of inefficiency in retail, as many stores rely on outdated methods such as printing schedules or pinning them to a noticeboard. Nobody likes having to call in just to find out when their shifts are, and it’s not a good use of managers’ time.

Instead, simply provide an automatically updated schedule via mobile app, where employees can organize shift swaps and time off themselves, with all changes reflected in real time on the schedule. Automated SMS alerts can ensure everybody is informed of changes that affect them, even without an Internet connection.

6. Performance tracking
Handling your sales and staff check-ins through mobile devices creates a great opportunity to track and share employee performance. A mobile sales app for your staff lets them receive automatic real-time updates on their recent sales and targets.

By automatically tracking performance this way, the amount of time employees spend checking and updating their sales on the noticeboard is reduced, as this can now be done at a press of a button. That means they can spend more time with customers, getting more sales.

7. Paperwork reduction
Cutting down on paperwork is about more than just being “green.” Searching through paperwork can take up as much as 30% of an employee’s day. Moving timesheets, schedules and other paperwork to a mobile app can drastically reduce the wasted time.

Better scheduling and communication can tackle some of the most ubiquitous problems in retail. Powerful new capabilities such as mobile POS apps can have a major impact not just on the customer experience, but also your employees’ job satisfaction, as they are being given the tools to work smarter and achieve more. Furthermore, mobile devices can save you money on equipment costs and lost sales.

In short, improving your in-store processes is just the beginning of how mobile devices can benefit your retail operations. Adopting a mobile-friendly approach to your retail operations gives you a huge amount of flexibility, so make sure to consult your team and find out exactly what mobile capabilities they need to improve their performance.

Alexa Lemzy is customer support and content manager at TextMagic.

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