Mobility enhancing Retail Customer centricity

Mobile device multiplication among store associates, floor managers, back office and supply chain workers — and, perhaps most importantly, customers — has accelerated rapidly. For forward looking retailers who are focused on customer centricity, mobile tech integration has become the propelling force. Extension of enterprise applications to mobile devices is helping retailers achieve timely data access, break down channel-specific silos of information, facilitate tailor made sales and service, and enable true one-to-one CRM (customer relationship management) with consumers on their path to customer centricity.

The tidal wave of enterprise and consumer-mobility  is here and this new age technology really puts the customer at the center of the business.

 Customer-Centricity Trends and Tech Enablers

Mobility is about more than devices and wireless networks — it’s about data. Data is being gathered, processed, and pushed to applications faster than it ever has, allowing retailers to make better, faster decisions — from the storefront to the supply chain — and align those decisions with near real-time consumer preferences.

Retail Analytics enables customer centricity by giving retailers insight into data, which improves productivity and increases the depth of customer engagement. Forward looking retailers rely heavily on measurements and key performance indicators via dashboards and scorecards and relying on predictive modeling to make big decisions.

Omnichannel Retailing

“Cross-channel” retailing was the topic of discussion last year or the year before but the mobile Internet that 50% of shoppers are taking with them on their smartphones everywhere they go has blurred any distinguishable lines between retail channels. Consumer mobility has crossed a considerable number throughout the world and looking at the way it is embraced globally, it has become the primary retail touch point.

Most retailers have some serious “channel integration catch-up” to do before they can respectfully call themselves “cross-channel” enterprises. Much less omnichannel retailers are deploying an integrated retail solution which is agile, innovative and scalable. Such a solution is their primary concern

Mobile technology is forcing change from a channel mentality to a brand mentality, and as it relates to the brand, there’s nothing so important as the consumiVend Mobileer. Generating a user experience that is channel agnostic is the perspective so that the consumers are associated with brand, not a specific channel.

 Store-Level Device Mobility

Mobile technology beholds in the context of enhanced in-store shopping experience. Implementation of this technology in store increases business opportunities for retailers and engages their customers. More and more retailers today are turning to mobile technology at checkout to enhance customer engagement and repeat buyers.

Inside the store, mobile technology has removed physical location as an obstacle to customer centricity. Consider the store-level associate who, using an ipad, can check inventory on a shoe style and size, at her store or any other in the chain, without leaving the customer’s side. That same associate can use that same device to access the customer’s purchase history, their loyalty status, and, in truly omnichannel environments, their site-browsing history and Web shopping cart. In this way, the associate can assist the customer with the completion of a transaction that started in a different channel. With mobile POS, the customer centric guest experience culminates at an entirely higher level.

Beyond enabling personalized service and transactions, mobility fuels customer centricity by creating on-the floor access to back office and managerial applications such as availability, scheduling, and inventory lookup . Because so many of a store manager’s tasks can be executed with the aid of a tablet or smartphone — as opposed to yesterday’s fixed PC — both the customer and the retailer realize the benefit of new found sales floor access to the retailer’s best salesperson and brand advocate.

Mobile enables customer centricity, whether it’s leveraged in stores for communication (email, voice, planning), productivity (access to managerial reports and task management applications), or customer service (access to customer, product, and inventory data).

Mobile eCommerce steps up Footfalls in Retail Stores

There’s just no escaping the fact that in the retail environment of today, attracting and keeping customers increasingly revolves around an enterprises’ ability to interact iVend eCommercewith and attract shoppers from across an ever expanding spectrum of contact points. The growing and most dynamic of these are electronically generated.

The revolution that has swept through the world of media and information technology over the last decade has transformed the environment for retail operations to such a degree that no area of commerce has been left unaffected. Staying up to date with these advances, and finding ways to creatively incorporate them into an integrated retail marketing strategy, has become essential to gaining customer attention and sustaining commercial viability.

There’s an App for That
Internet has changed the world forever, and every successful retail operation has long since adapted to this reality by establishing a presence online as a key element of their overall marketing strategy. Yet, as recent as the emergence of the internet may seem, the ways shoppers and information seekers use it has continued to change and evolve.

Over the last few years the advances and innovations which have come to mobile internet devices has utterly transformed how people use the internet, and how they interact with shopping and commercial relationships. The percentage of people who now conduct a large portion of their online activity via some form of mobile device has skyrocketed, with no end in sight.

In today’s internet marketplace, retail operations that do not have an application (app) specifically designed for use on a handheld mobile device are, quite simply, missing out on being seen by many potential shoppers, and every day that percentage increases.

The New Word of Mouth
Every retailer knows that the most powerful form of promotion they have available is the buzz of comments they can create within the buying public. A consumer talking to other consumer what really gets shopper’s attention and traffic into your Store. So it should come as no shock that right alongside the incredible ascent in the use of mobile internet devices, there has emerged an explosion in the ways people communicate with each other.

The growth of this social media has transformed the world of word of mouth advertising from a local to a global phenomenon. Retailers who understand this and have adapted to this new landscape have seen their visibility expand, and their reach extend to areas that seemed out of range even a few short years ago.

Generating traffic to both your website, and your brick and mortar locations, has been utterly transformed for retailers who have developed a seamless interface between their web-presence and social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, along with myriad other bookmarking applications.

Mobile eCommerce has arrived and is changing the shopping public’s interaction with the internet – and you – in fundamental ways that directly impact the bottom line of every retailer who is moving with this tidal wave of innovation and change.

What is emerging from this new environment is dramatically enhanced ease of use for shoppers. And there is no greater guarantee of customer loyalty to your operation than making their interaction with you as easy, and effective as possible. The continued growth and development of mobile eCommerce is the cutting edge of that continued interaction – and the key to maintaining and expanding your customer’s engagement at the point of sale – which they now hold in their hand.

Simplyfying Retail for Electronics & Digital Stores

Apple Store running iVend Retail - banner

Mobility is indeed a buzzword these days and the biggest beneficiary of this boom is the retail industry. Powerful, feature rich Smartphones & tablet devices in the hands of the consumers coupled with much improved Internet technologies are forcing the retailers to adopt mobility in their business environment.

Retailers are today extending brand & product information, ordering capabilities and payment options on mobile platforms to consumers. These mobile platforms are either smartphones or tablet-based devices, which are either consumer owned or employee operated. A recent report shows that over 45% retailers are most likely to adopt mobile platforms to cater to rapidly changing customer expectations.

iVend Retail for IOS iPhone iPad and Android Tabs

iVend POS running on iPad & iPhones

Given the nature of these devices, it is far more likely for an electronics retailer to adopt a mobile platform to increase customer satisfaction and use this as a shopping differentiator. A consumer would use a mobile device for placing an order, looking for ratings, reviews, redeeming coupons, use passport services to store all loyalty points, coupons, gift certificates, etc.

A retailer would use a mobile platform to enhance in-store shopping experience by using mobile devices as line / queue busters, marketing functions like dynamic location based messaging for promotions, advertising, etc.

The possibilities are endless and so are the technological options available to both – the retailer and the end consumer.

It is no longer futuristic for a consumer to walk into a store, select an item, order it online using his mobile phone with an option to collect the item form the same store right there. By using the mobile platform, the consumer will be able to get a better deal online, redeem his loyalty points and gift cards and still walk out of the store with the item, as if it were tendered out at the till in the store.

All these points prompted iShops in Egypt to select iVend Retail – a Complete & Integrated Retail Management System in their stores selling amongst other, Apple products.

iVend Mobile POS - Checkout screen

Retailers in the Electronics Vertical are faced with a unique set of challenges. Hundreds of products in tens of categories, ever changing models and their series including sizes, different types of accessories and all serial controlled make inventory management a herculean task for the retailers to keep pace with the changes and evolution.

Not only this, electronic products are extensively compared for their features and underlying technology before a consumer decides on a particular brand and model. Recording these features with an ability to compare models across a price range is a fundamental expectation from a Retail Solution.

Electronic items are not limited to the ones, which are portable and can be carried away by the customer. These items also include big sized items, which require installation and configurations with custom shipping needs.

iVend Retail Management Suite with its integrated applications allows an electronic retailer to effectively manage these challenges across multiple sales channels – in-store or online. Actually, more so, on the online eCommerce offering that a retailer may have.

How to increase Sales and Customer Loyalty in Mobile Marketplace?

As the economy slowly begins to return to a state a stability, the large majority of consumers are still feeling hesitant as they begin to wade back into the waters of retail Loyaltyshopping. It is because of the reluctance to spend that most industries have enlisted the help of some kind of retail management system to assist with boosting sales, tracking inventory, and managing customer loyalty programs. Because these loyalty programs are so important in acquiring and maintaining customers, it is critical that retailers remain ahead of the curve with the latest technologies. Making use of a strong retail management system will help you to attract and encourage buying from consumers via mobile loyalty programs.

Why should I go mobile for my retail loyalty program?

In today’s world, everything from friendships to ordering pizza have gone mobile – so why shouldn’t your loyalty program? With the ever growing popularity of cell phone apps and the usage of tablets, consumers are demanding that retailers stay on top of mobile market trends by catering to their every need in a way that is easy to access and use, even while on the go. Here are a few of the many reasons that your retail management system should allow for mobile loyalty programs.

  • Impact before checkout – On the whole, consumers and retailers alike have grown accustomed to the fact that many loyalty programs don’t do much more than add “points” to an account. Once these virtual points reach a preset threshold, the customer will receive discounts upon checking out. The problem with this system is that once the consumer has reached checkout, it is too late to encourage an increase in spending as the customer has already finished shopping. When your retail management system incorporates mobile-based loyalty programs, on the other hand, consumers are able to access and view their benefits throughout the shopping process which will encourage them to buy more.
  • Personalization – Another great advantage to mobile loyalty programs is that it allows for personalization. Each time a customer checks in, your retail management system will be able to learn what appeals to and interests these consumers most. In this way, you will be able to provide personalized offers that will yield a higher response rate.
  • Social Media – Your retail management system should be able to link mobile loyalty programs into social media. Consider the impact of online communities like Pinterest on social networking. People love to share their great finds with their friends! Mobile loyalty programs that are hooked to social networks will allow customers to share their purchases and loyal activity with friends which reinforces the value of what they have bought while offering you free advertising.
  • Mobile Payments – One of the latest trends in cellphone and tablet apps is the ability of consumers to make payments directly from their phones. It is being predicted that the widespread usage of mobile devices to make payments at retail location is closer at hand than you may believe.

Quick facts-

Still unsure if incorporating a mobile loyalty program into your retail management system is right for you? Consider the following:

  • 73 percent of consumers say they have used their mobile devices while shopping
  • 47 percent of shoppers rely on smartphones to learn more about a product before buying
  • 93 percent of people who use apps in stores make a purchase at a physical location

Your consumers are already going mobile in your store – why not use to to your advantage? Mobile loyalty programs are the wave of the future and will lead to increased consumer satisfaction and higher overall revenue.


Innovate or Face Extinction

A business needs to innovate or they risk becoming irrelevant.

The typical sales model no longer applies for retailers. There’s no doubt that there will always be a need for brick and mortar stores; people need to touch and feel a product before purchasing it. In fact, over a third of online consumers cite this as the top reason they don’t prefer to buy online.

Innovate or Face Extinction in RetailToday, however, it’s really all about convenience: consumers want to buy whenever they want to, wherever they are, and as easily and hassle-free as possible. They may love shopping at your store most of the time; but they also want to be able to purchase from you when they are stuck at the office late or at midnight when they are shopping for holiday gifts. Retailers big and small must integrate multi-channel retailing into their repertoire or they will experience attrition in sales and their customer base consistently.

The latest innovations in retailing tend to be adopted early by large retailers. Consider these interesting new innovations:

  • Nordstrom’s just announced that they are testing a mobile application that will allow customers to order custom made men’s suits whenever they desire. Can you imagine sitting in your hotel room at midnight, while away on business in Asia, ordering several thousand dollars worth of custom, high end suits?
  • Neiman Marcus has a mobile app that allows you to work with your favorite sales associate.

Are you embracing innovation in your business? If not, imagine the impact of the following scenarios on the success of your business.

A frequent client stops by your shop, looking for a dress for an upcoming special occasion.  After trying on several dresses, she leaves, saying she’d like to think it over more. Later that week, she decides on one of the dresses at your shop, but she’s at a mall twenty minutes away and your store is closing.

She looks up your store on her mobile phone’s browser so she can purchase it and then pick it up tomorrow. Alas, your webpage doesn’t have mobile capability. She gets frustrated when it’s cumbersome to navigate your site, and ends up ordering the same dress from another store at a nearby mall.

Loss of convenience = Dollars flying out the window.

Your children’s retail boutique recently started carrying a decorative accessory that is aimed toward the preteen girl’s demographic. It’s predicted to be the new hot trend. While in-store sales are fairly flat for this item, they seem to be selling well online. However, you don’t have the time or the tools to assess who’s buying these items. You soon run out of stock and the item is backordered.

If you had a retail management solution that integrated with your multi-channel retailing, you’d have quick access to important customer data, such as detailed demographics of purchasers as well as anyone who clicks on your site. What if a young teen in Texas wore this to her school and started a huge trend, which quickly spread in the area?

By having quick access to this data and integrating it with your social media platforms and customer loyalty programs, you could have marketed to a targeted demographic. Instead, some other retailer has capitalized on the trend. 

No management tools = Lost sales.

You own a chain of electronic and consumer goods stores. They become crowded during weekends, especially when you are running popular promotions, and it often seems like your sales staff isn’t able to keep up with all the questions.  A male shopper who is well-versed in IT equipment stops by to purchase a computer and other accessories, all of which are on sale. However, he can’t get anyone to help him and the checkout lines are long. Because he’s in a hurry, he leaves and plans to come back later. But he doesn’t get a chance to stop back before the sale ends, and takes advantage of a competitor’s sale on the same item the following weekend.

If your store had been equipped with mobile solutions, such as in-store tablets, your customers could order their purchases throughout the store and speed up the process.

Imagine making your customer’s shopping experiences a simple and easy task. Whether at home, on the road, or in your store, your innovative systems are providing them with ideas, information, and convenience. This translates into more sales and revenue for your business.

Can you afford not to innovate?

Turning the Mission Shopper into a Loyal Customer – How to improve your Small & Medium Size Retail Business’ Conversion Rate

The ability to consistently attract shoppers into your retail establishment and then convert them into buying consumers is the lifeblood of any retailer. Hopefully, along the way they’ll also end up buying more than initially planned. But as a rough economy and the internet continues to decrease the amount of visits a consumer makes to brick and mortar stores, conversion rates become even more imperative.

The advent of online retail and smart phones, while enabling the consumer, has created more challenges for traditional retailers already facing difficult economic times. And the small and medium sized retailer is even more sensitive to this issue.

The term “mission shoppers” has been coined to describe Web-savvy shoppers that enter a store with a purpose – they head directly to their intended purchase and leave without browsing. They’ve already used the web to investigate and analyze the goods. This is especially impactful for retailers dealing in name brand commodities like electronics, luggage, and appliances, but it will have an effect on every business.

Another potentially damaging effect of online commerce is the ability for a consumer to research the desired item in a brick and mortar store and then make their purchase online for the best deal. Many shoppers still desire that kinesthetic aspect of touching, seeing, and trying on merchandise before they purchase it. They’ve essentially used the store as an investigative tool but let price be the deciding factor in where they make their purchase.

Fortunately, many consumers still appreciate the individualized service one gets from an independent retailer, as evidenced by the success of American Express’ 2nd annual Small Business Saturday. The following strategies, when implemented consistently, allow your retail business to integrate the technological practices of large chain retailers with the personalized service of a small business.

Help your “mission shopper” find what they are looking for quickly and efficiently. What if your customer wants a certain brand of luggage in a color that you don’t currently have in stock? In the time it would take your staff to call around to other stores, your savvy shopper has likely found the item on the internet, using their smart phone, in the color and style they desire. With the iVend retail management solution, your staff can locate inventory available at any of your locations quickly from their POS terminal, thus saving the sale and impressing your customer with their fast and efficient service.

You can offer flexible payment plans such as layaways to your customer. While they may save some money by buying the desired item online, they need to pay for it immediately and then wait several days to receive this item. Your staff can use iVend’s layaway feature to entice consumers to purchase without having to part with their cash immediately. Layaway terms can be arranged to fit the customer’s needs, allowing your staff to upsell items and increase sales. Many large retailers are bringing back layaways for the holiday shopping season.

Your staff can recognize and reward frequent and loyal customers easily. Our iVend Loyalty solution allows you to track your customer’s buying behavior and assign loyalty points, etc. Staff can use this to reward the frequent customer with discounts, gift cards, and more. Consumers who shop at small to medium sized stores generally appreciate the recognition and relationship they establish with the retailer. Why not reward them for their loyal behavior?

Make real time pricing decisions if needed. A friend of mine recently was in the market for a new television. He was the true mission shopper – after researching various brands and finding the best price online, he then asked two local retailers if they’d match Amazon’s price, which was $30 less. One savvy retailer quickly matched it and then threw in free shipping and removal of their old tv. It’s no wonder that this independent brick and mortar retailer has consistently done well, even though their prices are higher than most chain stores.

iVend is a complete end to end retail management solution that allows you to analyze and react in real time. Together with your personalized service and business savvy, the small and medium sized retailer can easily turn browsers into loyal buyers.

Retailers adapt mobility to remain competitive

Mobility is about transacting real time data at the point of activity and accessing relevant business information whenever or wherever required. In retail this allows more staff to be available on the shop floor, where the customers are, and not at the back office.  The benefit of concentrating staff availability in customer facing areas can have a marked impact in the perception of service offered thus making the retailer more agile and competitive.

Mobile POS

Everyday more sophisticated and flexible solutions are provided by mobile computing platforms that are becoming more and more attractive to retailers.  This is due to wide acceptance of Wi-Fi and 3G networks as an everyday technology and the advantages they brings in being always connected, allowing instantaneous update of data, and real time provision of information to store employees at the point of activity as well as corporate bosses in any device.

Mobility of technology is often achieved through the provision of hand-held devices like iPhone, iPad, Android based devices and many more, which can be used to transact a process in software solution at the point of sale or where the work needs to take place. Managers can access consolidated data with a click of a button on any device possible.

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