For Retailers Looking to Innovate, It's Still a Mobile-First World

Trends like augmented reality and mobile payments are shifting retailers into new frontiers.

Given the rapidly shifting sands of the retail landscape, one thing remains clear: Mobility is king.

Mobility continues to change the shopping game, with more customers making purchase decisions via mobile channels, and increasingly via social channels.

Retailers that can hit consumers with the products they enjoy, in the channels they prefer and at the right time, continue to find success.

The National Retail Foundation reported recently that:

Retailers continue to find ways to integrate the digital and physical worlds, especially in store improvements like self-checkout and back-end processes like task management for store associates. The challenge remains prioritizing “digital first” over other organizational goals, optimizing product assortment and getting content online.

Forrester Retail Analyst Sucharita Kodali tells NRF that, as much as retailers want to engage in the latest and greatest thing, “there are a number of basics that companies still seem to need to get in place and get right before they can truly make the most of their digital strategies.”

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Mobile Enables AR, Payments and Personalized Service

Augmented reality is one of the hottest tech trends in retail right now. IKEA successfully incorporated augmented reality within its mobile app and catalog, allowing customers to scan an item from a catalog page, then hold up a tablet or phone to view what the item would look like in the customer’s own environment.

In luxury retail, or stores that work with customers to fill out gift registries, retailers use mobility to drive more meaningful face-to-face interactions, giving shoppers the sort of personalized, one-on-one attention otherwise lacking in many retail environments today.

Retailers can provide shoppers with mobile apps that allow them to schedule in-store appointments or pickups from their phones.

When the shopper arrives, he or she can check in using an app on a storefront tablet, or the store’s mobile beacon technology can notify associates of the customer’s presence. Then, a sales associate armed with a tablet can greet the customer and guide him or her through a personalized shopping trip, using a mobile device to pull information on customer preferences.

Mobile point-of-sale and payment solutions simplify the checkout experience for customers and open the door to omnichannel interactions, allowing brick-and-mortar stores to leverage pricing, product information and inventory data in much the same way that online retailers do. mPOS has done much to usher retailers into the era of digital payments and couponing.

Stores can deploy touch-free systems, such as Apple Pay, to let customers make purchases from smartphones equipped with near-field communication technology. mPOS ultimately can improve retailers’ scalability and help to optimize floor space, reducing or even eliminating customer checkout lines.

Mobility in Retail Requires a Strong Network

CDW’s white paper “Modernizing Retail Technology” aptly points out that mobilizing retail goes beyond engaging customers on phones and tablets. It typically requires an upgrade to existing network technology, POS systems, staff support assets and back-end software, all of which work together to support end-to-end mobility.

From the instant customers enter a store to the moment they complete a purchase, seamless in-store mobility transforms the merchant-customer relationship to provide a rich, streamlined experience.

The foundation of any mobile retail effort is a robust wireless network. Modernized retail environments need ample network bandwidth to support traffic from customers’ phones, in-store mPOS systems and tablets, digital signage and store beacons, and a variety of other sources.

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Jun 01 2018