Mobile shopping is moving into the hands of salespeople.
Just last year, slightly more than a third (37%) of retailers’ employees were using mobile devices in-store, with fewer than one in five planning to add it, based on a new study.
This year, almost half (49%) of retailers said they now provide mobile devices to store associates and an additional 20% plan to add employee mobility in the near future, according to the 2015 Store Operations Survey.
The fourth annual study comprised a survey of 100 retail executives by Retail TouchPoints, to examine challenges and future plans around store operation strategies.
Store employees can use their mobile devices to help shoppers with product information and check availability and retailers say they have received the following benefits from it:
Retailers see mobile as improving customer service and increasing sales, two obviously strong measurement metrics for any merchant.
And then there’s the issue of competing with what shoppers already are doing with their phones in a store, where surveys consistently show that the majority of shoppers use them.
Numerous studies show that mobile shoppers are looking for product information from their mobile device while in a store and the top function mobilized salespeople are doing is just that.
The reality is that without mobile, it can be challenging for sales associates to be familiar with a large number of products. The other and more significant factor is that product information for shoppers with phones is but a click or two away, totally bypassing any sales personnel.
It also appears that it finally dawned on retailers that the majority of mobile shoppers go to retailers’ websites over their apps.
A large majority (81%) of retailers say they now have mobile websites, compared to 43% just a year ago. Another 10% plan to commit to adding one within the next six months, which would bring the total to 91%.
But apps are not being ignored. More than half (61%) of retailers have apps with 11% planning to add them within the next six months.
There’s more positive news around mobile usage in stores, as most (71%) retailers say they now offer free Wi-Fi in stores and 7% more plan to add it. The other 22%, not so much.
For investment around mobile technology, 43% of retailers increased it this year and for 45% it stayed the same.
But mobile doesn’t seem to be top of mind when it comes to measuring store performance.
Most retailers measure store performance by an increase in year-over-year store revenue (69%) or same store sales (67%), both of which dwarf all other measurements.
For example, only 14% use in-store conversion rates, 13% use customer satisfaction and a mere 2% use reviews or comments on social channels or on the company website.
It will be interesting to see the future results from the 31% of retailers who have no plans to give mobile technologies to their sales associates.