How Retailers Are Using Omni-Channel Mobile Solutions to Enhance the Customer Experience

With expecting online sales this holiday season to rise between 8-11 percent from 2013, its imperative that brick-and-mortar retailers consider an omni-channel approach to sales to fully capitalize on recent purchasing trends. More and more consumers are using a combination of mobile devices, online platforms and physical stores to fulfill their shopping needs – and retailers must embrace it. Retailers looking to provide the most complete shopping experience will need to employ a strong mobile solution strategy to accompany traditional retail methods and capture shoppers’ attention.

According to a survey conducted by PWC, omni-channel shoppers are broken into three categories: digitalists (32%), tradeoff shoppers (39%) and transitionalists (29%). Online shopping is the preferred method for digitalists, while transitionalists primarily shop in stores. Tradeoff shoppers prefer the best of both worlds – this segment tends to shop in traditional stores, but purchase online if they can find a better deal. Additionally, PWC has suggested that 2014 may be the turning point for the majority of consumers to make online pre-planning part of their holiday shopping tradition as 41 percent of shoppers plan to increase their online spending from last year.

While online and in-store shopping will remain constant pillars of the retail experience, retailers need to get more creative than ever with their sales platform options. Consumers’ expectations have never been higher; they want their online, mobile and in-stores experiences to be seamless. Retailers must keep omni-channel in mind since a whopping 70 percent of consumers use mobile phones in retail stores to research and accompany their shopping experiences.

What do statistics like this mean? Retailers need to adapt to consumer behavior in a way that combines both online and in-store purchases. There are a few avenues they can take in order to offer the most seamless experience for customers.

One way is mobilizing employees with mobile POS devices, particularly ones that are durable and well designed with intuitive shopping applications for customer engagement. Consumer-grade mobile devices don’t have the capabilities of true, enterprise mobile devices which have a number of functions including: supporting web-based and local applications employees need to do everything from stocking shelves and managing inventory, to processor-intensive tasks like remote surveillance monitoring and financial analytics with the ability to recognize chip and pin technology which is coming to the retail market by this October. Retailers can also keep their brand top of mind with shoppers through an app or mobile-optimized site that can centralize their information and price searching.

In addition, retailers can now converge their systems to take advantage of what is becoming an increasingly intelligent network for the best omni-channel experience. Solutions now exist that combine facial recognition data from security cameras with micro-marketing systems that automatically display custom messages and promotions on in-store digital signage. Inventory control and real-time sales data are also being used to produce instant promotions and flash sales to get slow SKUs moving.

It appears retailers are planning to implement some of these solutions into their stores. By 2016, mobile POS will account for 12.4% of traditional POS shipments in North America according to an IHL Group study while another report by Infogroup indicates the number of retailers using mobile POS systems will triple by 2018. Digital signage sales were at nearly $1.3 billion in 2010 and are expected to grow to nearly $4.5 billion in 2016 with brands looking to improve their retail experience across multiple channels.

As consumer demand for enhanced omni-channel experiences increases, retailers must ensure a seamless retail experience across multiple sales platforms to ensure they are as fluid as possible. Today’s retailers need to seek out enterprise mobile POS solutions that meet the expectations of customers while bringing the efficiency brick-and-mortar stores require to ensure their bottom line keeps up with the omni-channel experience.

While online shopping has become an increasing trend with consumers, brick-and-mortar shops still comprise a large portion of the retail space. Retail shoppers continue to bring their mobile devices into stores, making an omni-channel approach essential for retailers. What are some of the strategies they can implement?