Retailers embracing mobile for customers, employees — and survival

Retailers have gotten a taste of how mobile technologies can help their business — and they want more, please.

A new report by Boston Retail Partners (BRP) concludes that retailers “are focused on significantly expanding the use of mobile technology for customer identification, customer engagement, associate training and task management, point of sale (POS) and payments.”

Specifically, the survey-based report finds that 89% of retailers plan to “offer mobile solutions to associates within three years.”

“Putting mobile devices in the hands of store associates is now a necessity to keep up with the customer who has a plethora of information available at her fingertips,” BRP writes. “Associate mobile devices enhance the shopping experience by accessing real-time inventory and customer data and offering the ability to service customers and process transactions anywhere in the store.”

This all makes perfect sense. Nothing is more frustrating to a modern, digital consumer than when retail sales associates are unable to help them because they lack information about store inventory, special deals, customer purchasing history, etc. Dude, it’s 2017!

Other highlights of the survey report include:

  • 70% of North American retailers say “identifying the customer and then delivering a personalized experience” is one of their top priorities this year
  • Nearly one-third of retailers (31%) say they plan to “implement mobile tools for customer engagement within the next 12 months”
  • Within three years, 84% of retailers intend to utilize mobile point-of-sale (POS) technologies in their stores

The survey also underscores the challenges retailers face in deciding which mobile payment platforms to offer customers. Apple Pay, PayPal, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay are just some of the mobile payment systems from which retailers can choose.

Despite the ongoing lack of a market leader, “mobile payment acceptance is increasing rapidly with fewer retailers taking a wait and see approach,” BRP says.

“There will be exponential growth in mobile payments in the U.S. over the next five years,” the report authors predict. “There will likely still be more than one single mobile payment. However, the few payment providers who master simplicity, convenience, security and simple integration for retailers while ensuring that the process enhances the customer experience, will come out on top.”

The message to retailers is clear: Mobile is happening, and if you don’t get on board fast, you’ll be shuttered by the digital economy.

RELATED LINKS

Retailers need much more than faster transactions

Security: The new key to retail consumer engagement

Operational efficiency: A must-have for digital retail

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