Smart mPOS and the Untethered Associate

By Kevin Swanwick,
Smart mPOS and the Untethered Associate

We recently hosted a webinar on the topic of mobile point of sale (mPOS), its importance in the store environment and ways to deploy it in order to empower store associates. We all know that consumer expectations for the store experience are rapidly changing, and store associates are vital to this change. For most retailers, this means an uphill battle to change the current perception of a “useless associate.”

Mobile offers a path for making vast improvements in this area. While retailers seem to understand mobile’s potential, the rollout of anything more than “POS lite” has been slower than expected. The hour-long webinar looked at:

  • Why the rollout of mobile technologies has been slower than expected.
  • A few key-use cases for mobile in retail stores.
  • Best practices for achieving ROI from mobile investments.

Nikki Baird, managing partner at Retail Systems Research, and I took part in the educational session, moderated by Matt Pillar from Innovative Retail Technologies. To recap:

The appetite for mobile is strong but has moved toward a combination of on-the-floor store operations and customer service functions for associate empowerment. The ROI for mobile POS used to be focused on getting space back into the store but now addresses other areas. Store associates are now more involved in full brand, all-channel engagement with their customers and are working toward a new, higher standard. Retailers are asking more of their associates than ever before. Mobile, therefore, is concerned with creating informed employees who can help customers achieve objectives using up-to-the-moment data pertinent to customers’ wants and needs, all while allowing associates to do the rest of their jobs in the store.

A few mobile-use cases that we discussed at length were:

  • How to leverage mobile to enable a ‘save-the-sale’ strategy in a store. This looks across inventory, order management systems and line-busting approaches to see how mobile fits into the larger picture.
  • The importance of mobile payments – not only as part of a ‘save-the-sale’ strategy, but also in reference to security, omnichannel and EMV rollouts.
  • How mobile helps retailers up their personalization game in-store, as right now the digital personalization experience typically breaks down when a customer goes into a store.
  • The complexities of customer service in omnichannel environments and how mobile can help stores mitigate this complexity.

No discussion about strategy could be complete without looking at measurement. To close out the discussion, we focused on a few best practices for measuring ROI. While there is no clear silver bullet, the general consensus was to focus on context related to employee productivity. While saving time is an objective, the focus is more on ensuring that employees are spending the right amount of time with customers and using that time efficiently. Selecting proper technology and enablement partners is also a best-practice approach.

The Q&A session was very lively as well: thanks to all of the attendees who engaged with our panelists. The recording contains more statistics regarding mobile strategies for retailers and insights from Nikki and me on what they can do to achieve a better state of mobile in-store and to better empower store associates.

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