In a Sales Associate’s Hand, Mobile Is a Powerful Tool

It’s almost impossible to exaggerate the power of a mobile device in the hands of a retail sales associate. It provides historical and future inventory data, limitless demos and brochures, the ability to check-out a shopper in the middle of a crowded store aisle, a means to effortlessly connect a sales associate with a customer or a store manager, and anything else that a mobile app can deliver.

Three Ways Mobile Empowers in Retail

Let’s put this into context. There are three ways the power of mobile plays into today’s retail scene: in the hands of a sales associate, in the hands of store management, and in the hands of shoppers.

All three can directly involve the sales associate. Management can message the associate, flagging special situations (“Just learned that tomorrow’s shipping of those ultra-popular turquoise shoes isn’t happening. The four pairs we have in stock are all we’ll have until after the holidays.” Or, “That customer approaching you in the blue coat bought $3,000 worth of merchandise two days ago. Make sure he has all the help he needs!”). And customers can broadcast a call for help from a nearby associate (“I’m in aisle three and need assistance buying a prom dress. Can anyone please assist me?”).

Finding Items That Are Hidden

But that mobile device in the hands of the sales associate has the potential to provide the best sales tool possible. If the store has attached RFID tags to merchandise, then the associate can find a product when it’s misplaced. An RFID sweep will even locate an item that has fallen behind a display case.

That product locator is especially critical in low-inventory situations. Consider: A customer wants the green gloves in her size, but there appear to be none in the case. And yet, store inventory says that there should be one pair remaining. Beyond the item having been misplaced or hidden (or, for that matter, stolen), there’s the commonplace scenario that it’s right now in the cart of another customer, possibly waiting in the checkout lane. That mobile scan can save both associate and customer a lot of headache.

Mobile Is Good, but It’s Not Magic

But as powerful as that mobile device is, it’s not a magic wand that can transform eight associates into 28 associates. For example, a dressing room that can beam a “please come help me” message to an associate’s mobile device isn’t going to do much good if the associate is busy with another customer.

Mobile devices do a wonderful job of helping sales associates do their jobs far better, with greater efficiency and accuracy. But if the store is understaffed, those devices won’t make a difference. On the contrary, a shopper who is unsuccessfully trying to find a sales associate will be frustrated, but a shopper who clicks the “help me” button and is then ignored will be furious.

Used properly and creatively, though, smartphones and tablets today open up a world of capabilities. They can reveal the whereabouts of every single SKU, ensure every associate is more informed, and empower every shopper.

Explore the interactive graphic below to learn how VMware helps optimize customer engagement, store operations, and employee training and communication, while ensuring security of customer data at stores and distribution centers.