Balancing speed and service in busy retail environments
Mobile-only stores are an enticing prospect for retailers looking to grow revenue, improve customer experience and optimize associate work schedules. Arm frontline retail staff with a lower cost mobile point-of-sale, and they can directly approach customers, cut fixed POS line times, free up store space, and tailor engagements to close sales…so the logic goes. But while many retail chains have introduced portable, versatile, hand-held payment processes in-store, not all are seeing mass-adoption yet and many await realization of the promised benefits.
So why is a super-efficient mobile-first store so difficult to achieve? Our industry experts have identified several obstacles:
1) Fear of connectivity issues
Resilience remains a concern for those looking to ensure a seamless, ‘serve from anywhere’ approach. Not all are convinced cloud-based architecture can deliver an interruption-free environment across a large store estate… and that’s before they consider the area outside the store for curbside delivery. This is a barrier, as mobile-POS truly comes into its own when it’s coupled with real-time information regarding endless aisle, inventory, and even individual customer benefits, loyalty and promotions. And the reality is that retailers can be reassured of performant connectivity and resilience, if they choose the right partner for unified commerce platform, cloud blueprint and infrastructure providers.
2) Staff training
Mobile POS promises much in freeing team members to approach customers, describe products and offers, and close the sale quickly. But associate attitudes and logistics need to be well considered. Without training, will your associates worry they might drop an expensive, delicate mobile device, and then be liable for the expense? Will they remember where they placed shared devices, and ensure the battery stays charged? Will they have guidance on when and how to use mobile; knowing when to indulge a long customer conversation, and when to prioritize speed of sale for many customers? Can they type-on and operate a mobile device one-handed, or will they revert to docking the device, and even using keyboards? These are all (foreseeable) common issues for retailers going mobile-first.
3) Labor ratios
Apple has proved hugely successful in adopting a mobile-first service model in-store. But unlike other retailers, Apple has an abundance of associates ready to serve. In a tight labor-market, many retailers are struggling to ensure adequate numbers of associates to keep customers happy, and avoid the agonizing waits that lead to walkouts, raised voices, or even worse — negative word-of-mouth, both on social media and in-person. Some retail operators have even adopted mobile POS, but find their teams are so busy serving customers they struggle to take the hand-held out of the dock and explore the floor. Another common issue is customers not being able to identify associates when they’re not behind a fixed point-of-sale. Are your associates clearly identifiable when they’re on walkabout in the store?
4) The optimal endpoint mix
One of the main attractions of mobile POS is the significant reduction in hardware costs. But not every customer is ready to move away from a fixed point-of-sale or pay with tenders excluding cash. And not every customer journey is best fulfilled in a busy aisle. Retailers need to consider the unique needs of their many customers and create an environment that reduces costs, increases sales, and delivers superior customer service. In Flooid’s experience, this is often achieved with a mix of endpoints, including mobile POS, self-service options, as well as a smattering of more traditional points-of-service.
So what’s the magic formula to get it right?
Retailers looking to adopt the aspirational mobile-only store need to do more homework to ensure their ambitions — and their business cases — match the realities of a busy service environment. They should remember the magic blend of people, process and technology as a combination of all three is needed for mobile POS to deliver on the promise.
Flooid helps by bringing genuine best practices advice and solutions for the planning, technology and delivery process of mobile adoption, plus ongoing support pre-and-post deployment.
Our cloud-native unified commerce platform operates seamlessly across any in-store endpoint and can scale easily, reliably and quickly to meet the optimal blend of experiences needed. This means retailers can move towards mobility at their own pace, confident that they can develop proofs-of-concept and run pilot projects in a safe, controlled fashion, while maintaining the freedom to choose different solutions for different stores.
Our cloud and connectivity partnerships ensure resilience, while our hardware-agnostic approach and partnerships provide options for ruggedized, small form factor hand-held devices that are suitable for sharing across shifts and retail-hardened for the physical rigors of a busy environment. Our managed and support services couple with our Flooid Insights business analytics to deliver accurate, quantifiable information about device usage and associated sales to understand adoption and return on investment.
Would you like to learn more? Speak to our team about mobile-only stores, or find out more about the evolution of point-of-sale here.
Flooid works with some of the world’s leading retailers. If you would like to learn more about Flooid’s capabilities, please Contact us.
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