Timing is everything… the stars are aligned… it’s now or never… it’s a perfect storm. These are expressions I’m hearing from retailers in regards to empowering their store associates with mobile apps in 2017. The past 15 years have seen a huge investment in online shopping capabilities. It’s been the top area of focus for most technology investments in Retail. In fact, one can argue the investment pendulum has swung too far to online and away from the in-store shopping experience. Although there’s been some uptick in investment in omnichannel capabilities, in-store displays, RFID technology and analytics in the store, most in-store investments have not been transformational. Even more telling is the lack of investment in the store associate, the key role that can elevate a brand, enhance the in-store experience and differentiate a retailer from online pure plays. This role has essentially been neglected when compared to other roles in retail.
But that is all changing rapidly. There’s been an explosion of mobile solutions being deployed in stores from “line-busting” to “endless-aisle” to “clienteling”.
Why now? Here are the top macro drivers creating the perfect storm, in a positive way, for mobile associate apps.
The bottom line, 2017 will be the year of the mobile-empowered store associate. Apple, Lowes, Nordstrom, Bonobos and others have proven that putting a mobile device in their in-store associates hands along with a few killer apps will drive sales, improve service and build relationships with customers. Others are following fast. With new robust mobile-first, cloud-based out-of-the-box solutions available for the store from providers like Tulip Retail and the new economics of deploying these solutions, other retailers will be able to leapfrog to a best-in-class, associate-to-customer shopping experience.