Knowledge Leader

Empowering Employees with Technology Can Save Brick and Mortar Retailers

Jeffrey Harris
by Jeffrey Harris

The big challenge facing brick and mortar establishments

Today, when I think about a new product I’m going to buy, I rarely begin my purchasing journey in-store. Instead, I will usually hit the web and begin a search using Google, Amazon or a specific retailers website directly. In general, I find that going to a brick and mortar store does not have the same appeal that it once did. Frankly, we all know that it is much easier to just search for exactly what you want online. In the end if we get hung up on making a decision then we go to a store. Since we’ve already done the legwork of looking online, the store is the place where we validate the product. Going to store means looking at the product in person, asking questions and making a purchasing decision.

Sadly, I find that some retailers haven’t quite caught up with the times. They have yet to figure out that in order to compete with online retailers, they have to become quite good at what computers can do, and I’d argue they have to find ways to be better than computers. A good place to start is by empowering employees with technology.

Sales Associates need to be empowered with the same real-time data and cutting-edge technology of a computer. More often than not, to answer a question in-store a Sales Associate will drag me around the store to a kiosk (if one is available) to answer a simple product question. In turn, this hurts my sales experience and the credibility of the associate. My computer can tell me instantly whether or not the product I want is available in the color and size I want. But a Sales Associate can’t? Today, when I go to a store I expect the same instant results I receive when shopping online, otherwise why bother?

Now more than ever, empowering employees is critical to success

Empowering Sales Associates with mobile technology is imperative to being able to compete with online retailers. Empowering employees with the right technology will ultimately give them an edge-up when driving the customer experience home. Additionally, it will provide endless value to your brick and mortar establishment.

It all comes down to experience. Make it worth my time to get in my car and battle traffic just to come to your store. By empowering employees with access to real-time product information either in the palm of their hand or on their wrist, you’re giving your team the ability to stay agile and informed. No more wandering around the store with a Sales Associate just to get to a kiosk to get product information. We’re talking real-time engagement right on the spot with the customer. We need this type of shopping experience.

A 2016 study published by Oracle Retail discusses how employees that are armed with mobile devices saw a 67% increase in customer satisfaction. Additionally, they found a 63% increase in up-sells and cross-sells and a 60% increase in overall employee morale. Not only does technology create a better experience for your customers, it creates happier employees! With in-store mobile you’re helping your employees fill the gap between the in-store experience and the digital experience. This ensures that you’re providing value to your customers and your employees.

Oracle Retail Study 2016 - Empowering Employees
Oracle Retail Study 2016

In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing how iSoftStone is changing the game with an innovative retail management solution that will empower employees with cutting edge smart watch technology. Stay tuned!