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Mobile technology in the retail industry: Top apps retailers are using

Posted by Steve Northcott

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November 28, 2017 at 6:24 AM

Mobile technology in the retail industry_top 7 apps

As giants like Amazon continue to revolutionise the shopping experience online, traditional retailers are constantly looking for new ways to enhance the in-store customer experience.

The growth of online retail presents numerous advantages over offline shopping – personalised experiences, product suggestions, reviews, detailed information, FAQs and much more. As a result, retailers are looking at how they can evolve their stores to keep them relevant – and mobile technology in the retail industry is one such method that’s quickly gaining popularity.

This blog looks at seven of the top applications that retailers are loading onto their devices in order to improve the in-store customer experience and enhance efficiency. As the leading supplier of enterprise mobile computers for retailers, Zebra works with a worldwide network of partners to deliver solutions to meet our customers’ requirements.


Assisted selling tools

Assisted selling helps retailers deliver smart service, personalised shopping and greater value to their customers in real-time. Delivered on mobile devices, assisted selling apps enable shop assistants to access product information, availability and reviews, as well as the ability to complete orders and sales. Where shop assistants would previously have had to leave the customer to find out more information about the product, they can bring that information up on their device and can walk customers through the product and its reviews in real-time. In addition, assisted selling apps give them the opportunity to showcase related products and accessories and upsell them.


Price checking and mark down apps

If prices are not up to date, shop assistants need to be able to rectify them on the fly, instead of returning to their desktop computer to change prices in the central system. Problems arise when customers see a product online for a certain price only to find that the price in store is completely different. With price checking and mark down apps, shop assistants can check the latest product prices directly from their mobile devices and when paired with a mobile printer, update them accordingly. Similarly, the mobile devices can be used for price mark downs and promotions.


Inventory management – from scanning to RFID sleds

Inventory management apps make it easy for shop assistants to conduct basic stock checks and to help customers with stock enquiries around specific products. In addition, when combined with RFID, stock checks can be made quicker and more efficient.

Also, inventory management applications help stores to reduce errors associated with managing inventory manually and to increase staff productivity through the automation of time-consuming inventory management processes.


Queue busting and mobile payment apps

One way retailers are reducing queues during peak times is via mobile payment apps for customers.

For example, mobile technology in the retail industry – particularly from a payment perspective – is already in operation. Universal wallets such as be used at multiple retailers, as long as users have the relevant smart phones. Of course, having the right mobile technology to support a payment platform, as well as other retail apps, is crucial. In addition, Zebra’s mobile computers facilitate the addition of further accessories, such as magnetic stripe readers to enable mobile payment, extending the capabilities of your mobile computers and lowering the total cost of ownership as no new devices need to be bought for specific functions.


Staff communications – Workforce Connect

Managers and shop assistants can quickly be overwhelmed by communications – rushing across the store (and departments, depending on size) to deliver information. However, with staff communication apps, information can be exchanged in real-time; shop assistants and managers can carry out voice and data communications through one universal platform that works across multiple devices. Zebra’s Workforce Connect is a prime example of this functionality. It allows workers to use their mobile device to communicate and manage data, rather than swapping between different ones.  


Task management and allocation apps

With task management apps, managers can operate effectively directly from their mobile device or tablet. Irrespective of location – from store room to shop floor, managers can assign task responsibility, issue task reminders, track task progress, access real-time task reports and manage daily, weekly and monthly task lists. Task management applications streamline operations and speed up their execution, as well as give managers complete visibility into activities across the store.

Getting the right devices

While all these applications can help to improve the in-store experience, having the right devices to support them is key. As the retail space evolves and customer demands become more and more immediate, shop assistants are increasingly reliant on mobile devices to facilitate the delivery on services as quickly as possible. These mobile devices are typically loaded with applications, from mobile payment applications to inventory management and communication, enabling shop assistants to stay on the shop floor as everything can be done from the device.

As a result, shop assistants are dependent on their devices to help them to deliver the best possible experience to customers and to improve productivity. However, as these devices utilise a number of applications throughout the day, device uptime is a chief concern. Consumer-grade devices, when loaded with a number of CPU-intensive applications, will need to be charged numerous times throughout the shop assistants shift. This leads to productivity problems throughout the day as the shop assistant routinely leaves the floor. As device uptime is absolutely essential, ensuring shop assistants are available throughout the duration of their shift, they need enterprise-grade devices that have the right capabilities built-in to meet the needs of the market.

Enterprise-grade devices on the other hand, such as Zebra’s mobile computers, offer superior processing power for intensive applications, integrated retail-specific functions (such as scanning technology) and significantly longer battery life. The devices also provide accessible battery metrics, helping shop assistants to identify when batteries need to be removed or replaced. Also, the Warm Swap mode lets users change the battery without having to power down the device or close open apps. Zebra’s mobile computers deliver the necessary uptime shop assistants need to be truly productive and to meet the needs of the market.

Ultimately, it is crucial to factor in lifecycle and overall enterprise functionality when choosing the right retail mobile solution for your business. Just like Zebra’s mobile TC51 and ET5 tablet, your devices should be rugged, long-lasting, lightweight and customisable, while delivering both consumer styling and enterprise-class features.

To read more about the key criteria you need to consider when investing in mobile devices for your workforce, click here to download our white paper:

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Topics: Retail, EMEA, Customer Experience