Disruptive Technology: The Smartphone Wielding Customer Is Not the Enemy

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  2. 2016
  3. November

shopper on phone disruptive technologyTake a look at the shoppers in your stores and you’ll note that many of them have one thing in common: their eyes are glued to their smartphones as they shop. This rise in “smartphone-savvy shoppers” has left many retailers shaking in their boots; the greatest fear is that these consumers are engaging in “showrooming,” using stores to scope out products and then using mobile phones to find the items at lower prices elsewhere.

But as recent studies have revealed, consumers and their disruptive technology don’t necessarily spell bad news for retailers. These smartphone-savvy shoppers actually use their phones for retail-friendly activities quite often: sure, 54 percent engage in price comparison, but 48 percent of the time, shoppers are pulling up product info, and 42 percent of the time, they are reading online reviews. A good number of smartphone-using shoppers turn to their devices to search for coupons and deals and look up store locations.

So what can you as a retailer do to use new disruptive technology to your — and your customer’s — advantage?

Level the Playing Field

If your customers have smartphones in hand — and the wealth of on-demand information they enable — then it’s a good idea for your store associates to be equipped with this kind of disruptive technology, too. But first, have you right-sized your staffing levels? Take a deep dive into traffic-counting data to determine the ideal customer-to-employee ratio.

Once you make any necessary staffing adjustments, enhance the customer service you provide by equipping employees with the disruptive technology, including tablets, mobile point of sale, and other solutions, needed to give shoppers what they want.

With disruptive technology in hand, your store staff can:

  • Offer cross-channel price matching. Load key store software onto devices so that workers can quickly access inventory and pricing and offer price-matching to “save the sale” when necessary. Ship out-of-stock products from another location to the customer’s home.
  • Access product information. With a quick scan of a QR or barcode, your staff can pull up detailed product info, helping the customer to make a more informed purchasing decision.


Bring More Tech Into Your Store

Retailers were once afraid that offering in-store Wi-Fi would open the floodgates of consumers looking at and trying on products, just to actually purchase them elsewhere. Now that that myth largely has been debunked, discover how you can use Wi-Fi to your benefit. Customers will appreciate being able to save on their mobile data in your stores, and you can use your Wi-Fi portal to capture some basic customer info, such as email addresses (with opt-in, of course).

If you want to take it a step further, take advantage of geolocation with Wi-Fi and beacons to push out relevant messages and offers to customers in or near your stores.

Hop Onto the Mobile Payments Bandwagon

Consumers use their phones for pretty much everything, and that includes payments. Embrace disruptive technology by incorporating mobile payment capabilities at your cash wrap.

If you’re upgrading your POS terminals to become EMV-compliant, be sure the new hardware can accommodate tap-to-pay near field communication (NFC) technologies that services such as Android Pay and Apple Pay use. NFC is growing in usage, especially among device-addicted millennials.

Are You Mobile-Friendly?

Virtually every retailer operates some sort of website or e-commerce site, but have you considered how your online experience translates to mobile? By creating a mobile-friendly web or app experience, you’ll encourage shoppers to engage with your brand instead of looking elsewhere. Don’t get left behind, especially as transactions on mobile continue to creep higher.

Disruptive technology can be your friend or foe. Investing in critical hardware and software upgrades will show smartphone-savvy shoppers that you’re committed to providing the best retail experience possible.

Why Make Your Employees Brand Ambassadors?

  1. Home
  2. 2016
  3. November

employee brand ambassadorsThese days when you hear the phrase “brand ambassador,” it’s usually referring to an influencer talking up your brand to the world on social media. But many businesses are realizing that some of their greatest brand ambassadors are actually within their own companies: engaged, enthusiastic employees.

According to a Gallup poll, companies with high employee engagement report 3.9 times the earnings per share than competitors. Engaged employees create a more stable workforce — staff are less likely to jump ship — freeing the enterprise to focus on strengthening its brand.

So how can you go about transforming your employees into brand ambassadors?

Encourage Communication and Participation

Workers may feel like just a cog in the wheel if they’re kept in the dark about important business decisions and other enterprise goings-on. What’s more, employees need to feel like their voices and concerns are being heard.

Consider launching an internal communications tool such as a blog on your intranet or a wiki (which also will show you’re staying abreast of tech trends!). These are helpful avenues to disseminate information quickly and simply and empower workers to share ideas, identify areas for improvement, and air feedback about new initiatives and imperatives. From the administrative assistant to C-suite executives, encourage all staff to participate in the company-wide conversation.

Share Knowledge

Thinking about making big changes to your products or services? Before making any moves, find out what your employees think. Soliciting their input will help employees feel valued and engaged.

For example, if you are considering renovating retail space, ask employees for their feedback on your ideas. Their insight from the “front lines” could help you avoid costly missteps and refine your vision in a way that truly strengthens your brand. Getting employee input will also help toward buy-in for projects, which will make launches and transitions go more smoothly.

Foster a Sense of Community

Sometimes companies run through team-building exercises almost as a formality, but events that bring your employees together for a central purpose really can unite workers under a common cause. Regularly organize activities such as volunteering or fundraising for charities that can encourage employees to feel more strongly connected to your corporate brand.

Pick Passionate People

It might be easy to hire just any warm body to run a checkout or sling boxes in the stock room, but only employing passionate people will reap dividends many times over. Whatever the job function, hire great talent — rising stars who are invested in taking your brand to the next level. It’s what makes Apple’s Genius Bar so successful and Nordstrom sales associates so effective. Brand ambassadors don’t just do their jobs; they bring your company to life.

Use Tech to Make Employees (and the Experience) Better

Don’t make the mistake of making technology the star. Tech is simply the tool to help your employees and your business achieve success. Side-by-side customer interactions remain the gold standard; tools such as mobile point of sale (POS), digital signage, and real-time inventory management solutions, facilitate and elevate the associate-to-customer conversation.

Technology also helps you manage your business in a way that empowers employees. People counting solutions, for example, provide data that helps you predict when more staff will be needed to adequately cover a shift and enable sales associates to provide the best customer service. Engineering schedules to help your team create exceptional customer experiences will also help create brand ambassadors who feel like they’re really contributing to the good of the enterprise.

Engaged employees, not just workers who go through the motions, become frontline warriors for your corporate brand. If you’re looking for ways to build your company from within, invest in these five strategies to turn rank-and-file workers into invested and passionate brand ambassadors.