The Mobile Mentality in Retail
Most people would be quickly forgiven for immediately turning to the consumer market when thinking of using mobile apps in retail. After all, mobile commerce is a fast-growing trend which is gaining significant momentum, starting to overtake more conventional methods of shopping.
And while there are tremendous opportunities for retailers to capitalise on that by optimising, and innovating, their business models to suit mobile-first customers, it seems there’s just as much value to be gained by introducing such mobile technologies internally.
Mobilising the Workflow, as Well as the Worker
Business leaders in the retail industry will be well aware that maintaining a balance against this mainstream consumerisation of IT is paramount to their success. Consequently, organisations are calling on mobile applications to make consumer and product information more actionable, enhance the in-store customer experience, manage inventory, streamline operations, and improve collaboration with supply chain, distribution, and other partners.
But it’s important for these decision makers to realise that a mobile strategy is not just about the change from paper to pocket computer. A mobile app should be viewed as a way to augment an existing workflow within a business, and to significantly enhance the capabilities of its employees as a result.
Anytime, Anywhere, Anything
Take an employee tasked with managing the merchandising of a brand, working across various stores, reporting on sales figures and product performance. By mobilising this traditional (and fundamental) role within a retail brand, not only can the employees analyse, and report on, the data right there in each store they visit, they can greatly reduce the time it takes to do it.
An effective mobile app will also offer different ways to visualise large samples of data, provide instant access to past records across different areas of the business, and allow employees to continue working while travelling between various locations.
These kind of efficiencies, when applied to an entire workforce, offer businesses vast improvements in critical areas of their operations, saving time and money.
Carrying out these processes within a mobile app eliminates inherent challenges as well. Intuitive app features will often mean that the risk of an error, such as two colleagues storing conflicting data simultaneously, can be eliminated. More advanced mobile apps can even provide the capabilities to continue working offline, should any employees be visiting large warehouses or store locations with poor connectivity.
Complementing the Consumer’s Mobile Habits
For a professional sector as broad and distributed as retail, mobile apps can provide a foundation for organisational transformation in more than just back-office operations.
As mentioned previously, consumers are now looking to their smartphones for notifications about special offers, updates from their favourite brands, mobile app-based shopping, and even purchasing items in-store using mobile payments.
What this means for retail businesses is that their employees must be able to keep up with the same level of immersive access to information about their products and services.
The experience customers have can be drastically improved by empowering sales staff and store managers with mobile apps. This allows them to answer any question, or fulfill any request, that may be asked of them by a customer, with instant access to the most accurate data whether online or offline.
This also increases the ability to upsell or cross-promote items based on individual customers, offers opportunities to strengthen loyalty, and introduces the possibility to collect valuable feedback on customer experience levels to compare across the wider business.
Technology which can support critical elements of an organisation’s daily functionality, in such a holistic way, could become the difference between making a profit or a loss for a retail business. As soon as this is realised, both the business leaders and the IT department must work together to ensure the delivery of these mobilised workflows is maintained in proportion with their importance to the organisation as a whole.
The Need for a Mobile Strategy
In a market that moves so quickly, and is so dependent on the satisfaction of customers, business leaders that can automate the measurement and analysis of product trends, and implore their staff to be reactive to the behavioural patterns of their target audiences, will begin to realise how effective a mobile strategy can be.
This is compounded by the ability to adapt and update mobile apps quickly, which allows businesses to capitalise on new market opportunities, and overcome prominent challenges with dynamic solutions.
Optimising a business by unifying its entire ecosystem with intuitive mobile applications may seem like a daunting task to some, but this convenience and efficiency which they are able to deliver justifies the investment.
Reimagining the Retail Sector First-Hand
If this article was relevant to you or your business, don’t miss our in-depth customer case study. It details how leading global fashion brand Diesel has achieved transformational results by delivering a custom Salesforce mobile app to its workforce, seeing an 80% increase in efficiency as a result.
The case study also demonstrates how Diesel was able to push beyond the limitations of a failing Salesforce1 mobile app, and will help you overcome common challenges, make the right decisions in similar situations, and prepare you to succeed with your own mobile app investments.