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Heads Up on Your In-Store Mobile Retail App

There is plenty to think about while you’re planning your brands in-store mobile retail app. If you’re like most retailers you have leadership that is pushing an IT team to move quickly to keep up with the competition.

I’ll take it a step further and let you know that I have been at the table with more than 10 retailers, all of them have answered the “What is your in-store mobile strategy?” question with varying degrees of “We’re struggling with it and we know we’re behind the industry.”

The overall tone of most retailers on the topic of mobile retail app and tablet strategies is exasperation.

Good news: You’re probably exasperated because you think you’re behind the curve; but you’re not.

So we will break ranks with the dozen or so companies that are spending a lot of money to tell you you’re behind the times on all the bright and shiny objects to do what we do best – Take it step by step and keep it in focus. Or as we like to call it: Crawl, Walk, Run.Step by Step

Regardless of Use Location Keep the Mission Top of Mind

If the mission for your in-store mobile retail app is to sell more clothes, make sure that the devices speak to that in every way. Easy to hold, easy to put down. Not interfering with the person to person touch that is going on between associates and clients.

If the mission is to distribute and implement floor sets with mobile planograms, do the same kind of thinking about the way the device is going to be used in the store. I have seen these initiatives struggle for want of a good iPad case with a kickstand!

Tablet Care is a Mission All Its Own

They are going to need their batteries charged. They need to be wiped down.  Store them in the managers office or some other accountability point. Don’t use consumer products for these tasks.

Check out some of the awesome charging modules that are out there and make sure it’s capable of containing the mess that can accompany the devices in the busy and cramped back of store.

If You’re In-Store, You’re Head’s Up

If you’re the associate and you’re spending time looking at a device, there is a trade taking place. The trade is between time spent looking down and all that could be missed and what they are getting back from that screen. If the information is properly presented and very role specific, it shouldn’t take much of that head down time.

There is a tipping point, even if there is good info coming from the device, too much is too much. Don’t overthink it. If it feels wrong it is. In-store retail is about person to person interactions. If the device enhances that connection, you’re in great shape. If it diminishes it you need to rethink your strategy.

Associate Taps Count

As previously stated, there is a huge bonus for mobile retail apps that are role specific. This is going to allow your associates to “live” in the place that is most directly going to benefit them. As we created our Room Valet iOS app we made sure that the associate who was running the fitting room had what they needed in one screen. Changing screens isn’t a good game plan.

Who Goes Into the Managers Office?

The easy answer is your manager, but we’re going to hope that it’s for an ever-narrowing list of tasks. The manager is going to be the powerhouse when they can grab useful reports and YOY data on the fly and coach to the game that is unfolding in front of them.Analytics

Keep the useful information real-time and concise. Equip the manager with the proper tools for important insights so they can effectively manage their team. If it looks like it may have come off a fax machine, you’re doing it wrong.

Find Out More About Our Room Valet Fitting Room Solution and iOS app here.

 

How to Use Technology to Surprise and Delight Your Customers

As a retailer, you’re well aware of the importance of customer service. Exceptional customer service has the ability to surprise and delight customers and improve your bottom line.

With supportive technology, you can not only surprise and delight your customers, but provide qualitative measures of customer service, so that your team can make adjustments as needed.

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Why You Can’t Rely on Sales as Your Payroll Driver

Sales have long been the driving force in determining payroll.  However, if retailers want to stay competitive, that must evolve. Rising wages and increased digitalization create increased margin pressure, which means payroll optimization becomes less of a differentiator and more of a must-have.

What this means is: If you’re not looking beyond store sales when allocating payroll, you’re not going to remain competitive.

The Limitations of Driving Payroll Based on Sales

Store sales should be one – but only one – factor when allocating payroll. Payroll based only on sales is limiting, because sales is a lagging indicator. A stronger real time signal is store traffic.

At Alert Tech, our apparel customers find that fitting room traffic can inform the number of fitting room associates needed on a given day. Fitting room technology provides not only an accurate measure of traffic, but also reduces unnecessary labor costs.

Are You Viewing Labor as a Cost or as an Asset?

Speaking of costs, labor is costly.  However, labor can be a huge, competitive asset as it forms the backbone of customer service.  Customers expect increasingly better experiences in stores. Optimizing labor allows you to provide your customers with more hands-on time with your associates, and thus a better customer experience.

You Must Integrate Technology and Labor

Ok, so labor is costly and you’re ready to optimize your payroll – but where do you start? The good news is that you probably do not actually need a larger labor force. What you’ll want to do instead is integrate technology into your stores.

Using technology, you have an opportunity to automate routine, behind-the-scenes tasks, so – for instance – store associates don’t need to spend unnecessary time in the back office. This allows associates to instead focus their time where it where it will have more impact – embracing more meaningful customer-facing responsibilities and providing customers with exceptional service.

associates in the back office

Customers are more and more accustomed to interacting with technology. In fact, they are so familiar with user-friendly technologies in their everyday lives that many have come to expect similar experiences in brick and mortar stores. Customers want information and assistance immediately and will quickly move on if it is not readily available.

Retailers must continually invest in technologies that bolster the in-store experience, including systems that provide real-time monitoring and customer collaboration.  An example of a useful real-time monitoring system is Alert Tech’s Sense System. Monitoring fitting rooms with unobtrusive Sense technology puts store associates at ease as they assist customers.

The key to making in-store technology work is finding the right balance between shoppers’ interactions with technology and with staff.  Having technology in your stores is essential to help operations run smoother and to free up your sales associates, but too much technology can be a problem.  There are reasons that customers are coming in to the store and not simply shopping online – and one of those reasons is that they want human interaction.

To find the right balance for your brand, remember that store associates must successfully execute the key tenants of your customer service. To allow for the best possible customer experience, be sure to have human interaction at key times – such as handling disgruntled customers, or assisting customers who indicate interest in making a buying decision (such as searching for a specific item or entering a fitting room).

Conclusion

Retailers must use additional information points to optimize labor costs versus simply tying payroll allocation to sales.  Technology that provides this information can also help the business centralize around the customer, facilitate associate engagement, and boost customer experience.

Leading retailers are already leveraging smart technologies to improve existing capital-to-labor ratios.  Take time now to audit existing initiatives that assist this process, and assess what technologies you can add.  Start asking what your critical pain points and stumbling blocks are and decide how you can use technology to overcome those.

Want to see a demo of how Alert Tech can help with this process? Request one here.

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whitepaper download: in-store apparel retail analytics - beyond people counting

Increase Your ‘Batting Average’ with People-Counting Data

This article originally appeared on Data-Informed.com

Every day, retailers wonder how they can increase sales, optimize staffing levels, and improve store performance across multiple locations. It sounds like a lot to ask for, but it’s possible to get all that and then some. And it starts with people counting.

People counting is a critical part of tracking retail conversions, arguably the most crucial metric for retailers. With that in mind, it’s hard to understand why it’s so woefully under-utilized. Failure to get a firm hand on retail conversion rates is a massive missed opportunity.

Shifting the focus to conversion can completely transform a retail organization, but to make this happen, retailers need to count people.

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How to Beat Your Annual Sales Goals with Fitting Room Technology

It was the start of the holiday shopping season. The music had switched to Christmas carols, Santa was setting up shop in the center court, and parties were being planned for the first snowfall in the mall.

This was supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but for Joe, a manager at a large retail store, it was far from delightful.

Sales for the year were miserable. He was going to close out the year down 9% from last year, which for him was unacceptable. His boss was upset, of course, but even worse was that he had just found out that his friend Shannon across the mall was having the opposite experience in her store. They’d always been friendly rivals, but he usually ended up having a better year than her.

What was she doing differently?

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Using the Internet of Things to Your Advantage

If you have been paying attention to tech news in recent years, you have no doubt heard of the Internet of Things. If you haven’t been paying attention, fear not. Many of those who have waded through countless articles are still hard-pressed to come up with a clear explanation for the Internet of Things.

Luckily for both camps, we’re here to shed some light on the Internet of Things, and more importantly, how you can use it to your advantage.

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The Best Technologies to Use in the Fitting Room

When you think of fitting room technology, does Rebecca Minkoff come to mind?

This stylist has partnered with eBay to put together one of the most jaw-dropping fitting room experiences. The rooms are complete with personalized kinetic sensors and tracking systems to get to know customers on a deeper level.

For most retailers, the idea of adding technology to a fitting room feels far-fetched. This is where most retailers are sorely mistaken.

Technology isn’t something to be afraid of in retail. It’s something to embrace.

Many retailers worry about adding technology because of the cost or extravagance. Still, some of the best technologies to use in a fitting room are simple and highly effective. They drive sales and improve customer’s experiences.

The first step, is knowing what you need and what makes the most sense for your brand.

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4 Ways to Distract Your Customers From Long Lines

In the apparel retail industry your customers or clients often need to wait for fitting rooms and wait for you to grab their product or complete a transaction. Did you know you could significantly improve your business by distracting them while they wait?

Modern attention spans are shorter than ever, and a wait that may seem short to you may feel excruciatingly long to your customers. If you give them something to do while they wait, though, the time will seemingly fly by, and they won’t notice that they’ve been waiting at all.

Businesses have known the importance of these distractions for a long time- that’s why waiting rooms have magazines, kids get crayons at restaurants, and music plays when you’re on the phone and get put on hold. No matter what your business is, if waiting is part of the transaction, then you need to know how to make waiting in line better for your customers. This article should help you get some ideas.

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How to Deliver Hyper-Personalized Customer Service

When you think about personalizing your retail business, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

If you’re like many retail store owners, it’s marketing. You consider cross-channel or omnichannel marketing. You make sure you gather enough data on your customers to share relevant marketing messages. Is this enough?

Probably not.

In retail, you have a unique opportunity. Your employees work one on one with customers. As they begin talking to shoppers, it’s easy to sprinkle in personalized service. It’s good old-fashioned customer service with one associate personally investing time into one customer.

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How to Stand Out by Utilizing Modern Retail Technologies

Are you ready to update your customer shopping experience? Here’s how you can use modern retail technologies to differentiate your brand.

With the growing amount of competition on the retail landscape—thanks largely to the number of customers who are shopping online instead of at brick-and-mortar retailers—it is no longer enough for your store to merely sell quality products and services.

On the contrary, today the most successful retailers out there are also engaging their customers on intellectual and emotional levels.

Said another way, emphasizing a unique and satisfying customer experience is one of the best ways that brick-and-mortar retail stores can continue to draw shoppers who might otherwise opt to shop online.

Ask yourself this: why do so many people buy coffee at Starbucks instead of just buying Starbucks-brand coffee grounds at the grocery store?

Opting to visit a Starbucks location and order a drink there is not only less convenient and more time-consuming than brewing coffee at home, but it is also markedly more expensive.

The catch, though, is that Starbucks, instead of trying to compete with home-brewed coffee on cost (not a feasible option) have focused instead on creating a stellar and customized customer experience. From friendly and personal baristas to a comfortable store atmosphere established by familiar aesthetics and good music, Starbucks’ success is as much about the customer experience as it is about the product.

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