One of the many reasons why consumers are flocking to e-commerce retailers over their brick-and-mortar counterparts is speed. Driving to a store and parking takes time, as does browsing store shelves for specific items. But waiting in long lines to pay a cashier might be the most loathed part of the in-store shopping experience overall.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
More and more technology vendors are stepping in with mobile solutions designed to expand the ways store associates interact with customers and speed up the buying process. These solutions allow employees to do everything from checking inventory and processing transactions on smartphones — bypassing the cash wrap — to accessing real-time information about current promotions and customer purchase histories. According to a report by BRP, a retail consulting firm, 89% of retailers plan to offer mobile solutions to store associates within three years, and 31% of retailers plan to implement mobile tools for customer engagement within the next 12 months.
Here are six examples of the types of solutions that retailers can use right now.
1. Tulip Retail: Mobilizing store associates with selling tools
Tulip Retail offers a mobile platform that store associates can use for an omnichannel shopping experience. Using mobile iOS devices, salespeople can assist customers, process transactions, and communicate with each other to share information in real-time. Associates can access real customer reviews, which is useful when shoppers have questions about the fit or quality of certain products. Tulip is PCI compliant, and it integrates with PCI compliant payment hardware. The software also connects corporate office personnel with local store employees, which allows larger brands to quickly share promotion details or policy updates. Tulip customers include fashion retailers like Kate Spade, Bonobos, and Frye.
2. Salesfloor: Extending relationships between salespeople and shoppers
Salesfloor is a tool that salespeople can use to do their jobs better and flex their muscles as style influencers. When brick-and-mortar stores start using Salesfloor, their associates can create their own personalized versions of the retailer’s website. These personalized sites feature the salesperson’s “top picks,” based on what the salesperson thinks is stylish and what is in-stock at the local store. Salesfloor also offers a turn-key SMS text messaging solution that associates can use to text photos of products to existing customers as soon as they become available. Associates who’ve cultivated personal relationships with high-value clients have the most to benefit from this type of platform. Salesfloor is used by Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor.
3. Theatro: A voice-controlled assistant for retail associates
Theatro differentiates itself within the mobile customer service space by relying primarily on voice commands. Rather than typing commands into a smartphone or tablet, associates at stores that use Theatro quickly tap on a small device, the size of a key fob, before saying “hello” and the name of the colleague they’re trying to reach. The platform connects to a store’s enterprise systems, allowing associates to access product recommendations, alerts, and other internal communications from the sales floor, without retreating back to a terminal. Theatro also offers a suite of productivity apps for retailers, including an indoor location app that salespeople can use to find colleagues. Managers can use that same app to ensure all store zones are covered.
4. Zebra: Increased efficiencies inside the store
As a technology company with products that give real-time visibility to physical assets, Zebra has developed its own solutions for retailers that want to increase the efficiency of their in-store operations. The company’s Personal Shopping Solution includes hardware and software for processing payments, managing inventory, and interacting with customers from the showroom floor. An integrated loyalty solutions component also allows store associates to access gift registries and check loyalty points from their handheld devices. Businesses currently using Zebra’s retail solutions include the Tesco supermarket chain and the River Island fashion brand.
5. Salesfactor: Engaging shoppers on the path to purchase
Created by the SaaS company Leapfactor, Salesfactor is a retail sales app that anticipates consumer needs on the path to purchase. Using an iPad, salespeople can access product and video libraries, customer profiles and current promotional information (like which items are on sale at any given time). With an interactive product catalog in hand, salespeople are able to give customers information about the availability and pricing of products that are similar to what’s currently available in-store. The Salesfactor app includes a mobile payments service that can be accessed from within the store, as well. Salesfactor clients include Kiehl’s, L’Oreal, and General Shale.
6. Commerce Cloud Store: Optimizing the in-store shopping experience
Demandware’s Commerce Cloud Store has come up with the concept of “intelligence-based assisted selling” to describe its capabilities. The mobile solution encompasses both traditional and mobile POS software, as well as a unified store operation, distributed inventory, and cross-channel integration. Employees with mobile devices in hand can access both in-store and website inventory information, allowing them to sell online-only items to customers inside the store. Leveraging AI capabilities, salespeople can also provide personalized product recommendations based on a shopper’s previous purchases at any one of a retail chain’s store locations.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.