Commentary

The Challenge of Keeping Pace with Mobile Shoppers

It looks like the race is on for retail sales associates to keep up with mobile consumers.

As we wrote about earlier (Mobile Consumers Well-Equipped for Holiday Shopping), mobile shoppers are ready for the holiday shopping season. The question is how ready are the salespeople who work in the stores those mobile shoppers will visit.

A recent study conducted by ReRez Research for Experticity looked at what consumers want from retail associates and found they seek expertise, especially around products. The top four services desired are:

  • 73% -- Product knowledge
  • 71% -- Help selecting product
  • 69% -- Category knowledge
  • 68% -- Find alternatives

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Many (40%) of consumers said the sales associates fall short when it comes to delivering that expertise.

The reality is that the expertise is available to mobile shoppers with just a tap or two. Many retailers now have Wi-Fi, making it even easier for shoppers to retrieve product information while navigating the aisles.

A study by Deloitte found similar results concerning what consumer expect from sales associates. The top consumer expectations:

  • 65% -- Be knowledgeable about products
  • 62% -- Help me check out quickly
  • 54% -- Let me know about discounts/offers
  • 44% -- Greet me promptly with a welcoming attitude
  • 35% -- Have the ability to match any other retailer’s price

The Deloitte study also found that many (59%) shoppers feel better connected to consumer information, especially around product availability, competitive pricing and other information.

The question is how retailers deploy mobile technology to sales associates and effectively train them in how to use it to help the mobile shopper.

Of consumers who plan to use self-help technologies in stores, the majority (60%) plan to use price checking. Only 17% plan to use a retailer’s mobile app.

The good news for retailers is that the majority (54%) of shoppers are more likely to purchase in store from a retailer with knowledgeable sales associates. The bad news, of course, will hit retailers who aren’t in that position.

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