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May 1, 2017
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BRP report: mobile technology to impact US retail by 2020

May 1, 2017

BRP Consulting on Thursday released a report that found that mobile devices and mobile technology are focus for retailers. The retail management consulting firm surveyed top North American retailers to explore how mobile technology is shaping retail.

BRP Consulting

According to the BRP Special Report: The Mobile World of Retail, mobile devices are changing the shopping experience and retail operations in five areas, which are customer identification, customer engagement, associate training and task management, mobile POS and mobile payment.
70% of retailers believe that delivering a personalized experience and identifying the customer are the top priorities this year, and 31% of retailers plan to implement mobile tools for customer engagement. Most retailers currently identify customers through mobile websites and Wi-Fi and plan to implement other identification methods such as mobile apps, mobile loyalty programs, MAC address, and mobile wallet within 12 months or in 1 to 3 years.

Retailers also plan to engage customers through store associates that use mobile devices. Almost half of retailers have implemented mobile solutions for associates, including a “mobile workbench” but 36% say it needs improvement. The mobile workbench provides store associates with real-time inventory visibility, customer lookup, loyalty and single use coupons and other functions.
Shopping app PS Dept is one of the first to enhance the shopping experience through mobile devices. Founded by Michelle Goad and Wolfgang Klinker in 2011, PS Dept allows store associates to communicate directly with clients and shoppers via text message. Associates can also send photos and complete transactions over the app.
Approximately 89% of retailers plan to offer mobile solutions to associates within three years, and 84% of retailers will utilize mobile POS in their stores by 2020.
“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,” said Perry Kramer, vice president, BRP. “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.”
Mobile interaction with store associates could prove to be successful compared to chatbots that were introduced in 2016. Mall of America and Fashion Island partnered with IBM to launch Watson-powered chatbots that would help customers shop during the holiday season. A report from GPShopper found that over half of customers dislike chatbots and only 9% feel that chatbots can positively impact their shopping experience.
Unlike chatbots, mobile payments have had a positive impact on the shopping experience and has increased rapidly. Most retailers have accepted, or will accept within 12 months, Apple Pay and Pay Pal but many are taking their time on MasterCard PayPass, Android Pay, Visa Checkout, Samsung Pay, and Chase Pay among others.
The report concluded saying, “While the shift to mobile tools can dramatically enhance the shopping experience and reduce retailers’ total technology costs, it brings its share of challenges. As with any new technology, these innovative mobile approaches require a fundamental change in processes and corresponding training to educate sales associates and customers to convince them to try and use the new processes. You only have one chance to make a first impression and you don’t want to frustrate or disappoint your customers or associates.” 

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