By Dipesh Hinduja, Mobile Solutions Architect at Stratix
The modern brick-and-mortar retail experience for Black Friday is a tech-led one. Consumers are savvy about tracking deals online – and well in advance. They load up apps from their favorite retailers to guide them through their game plan of what stores to visit. Once they are in the store, retailers are now savvier about providing a sleeker, more optimized checkout experience to make the shopping experience even easier. Some even have mobile point of sale (mPoS) terminals ready to go in the interest of managing the anticipated rush of highly-engaged shoppers. This Black Friday, consumers are expecting a seamless, easy experience…are today’s retail stores prepared to provide this experience?
Recent research from YouGov/GPShopper offers a number of insights to this effect:
- 36 percent of consumers surveyed said they wanted to use a retailer’s mobile app
- 35 percent said they wanted to use scan-and-go for faster checkout
- 27 percent hoped to use visual search to find items
- 26 percent aimed to use a mobile wish list
Most importantly, 62 percent said they would not wait in an hour-long line to purchase a gift. The idea of fully-equipped store associates that are able to engage in “linebusting” with payment-processing tablets registering sales throughout the store is a utopian one that should make driving customers to stores easier than ever, right?
Alas, the reality of the in-store Black Friday experience is that we’re in the middle of a paradigm shift. In the same YouGov/GPShopper survey, 67 percent of those willing to use tech in-store are interested in buying online and picking up in-store (BOPIS). Even in the lucrative Black Friday consumer electronics sector, for example, we’re now at a stage wherein U.S. shoppers are predominantly buying online rather than in stores. So where is the disconnect between the dream scenario of technology creating a seamless, frictionless experience that enhances in-store Black Friday shopping and the cold reality of consumers shifting their focus to online?
It’s all in the implementation of mobile technology and how well it’s supported for your employees. What happens when your big Black Friday crowds are lined up, but face a slower checkout because the components of your mPoS solution (e.g. smartphone, card reader, printer) aren’t configured correctly and don’t work reliably? Or, you’ve not been able to successfully deploy mPOS at scale in your stores?
What if they’re not set up intuitively enough for the rash of new holiday employees you take on to help handle demand?
What does it do to your brand to be associated with a less-than-optimal in-store experience that frustrates customers and has them looking elsewhere to get their Black Friday fix?
Modern mobile technology can absolutely drive more revenue for your retail locations by enabling speedy, efficient linebusting – but only when it works. To ensure your mobile technology is always on and working you need to ensure it is properly supported. The sheer complexity of aligning your apps, tablets, payment sleds, printers and associated services at scale requires the services of a managed mobility services (MMS) provider with both specialized knowledge of the pitfalls of retail deployments and specialized support to quickly address challenges that can impact in-store operations. With the right mobile service programs, you can still have happy, loyal in-store customers who want to return to your stores again and again. Align with the right MMS for your business to make the most of your in-store experience. After all, technology is great, but only when it works.
Contributed by Dipesh Hinduja, a mobile solutions architect at Stratix, specializing in maturing teams and businesses that operate in rapid-change technologies.
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