Article

Gary Topiol
Gary Topiol 19 April 2017
Categories B2B, Research, Technology

Managing in-store mobile device usage

Customer experience is the new currency for in-store growth and success. The physical retail store has never had to work harder to remain relevant in a world where customer expectations and demands are sky-high.

Bridging the gap between online and offline retail experiences is essential, so that shoppers are presented with a unified and seamless experience of the brand – no matter where they are in the buying journey. An effective way to achieve this is by implementing in-store technologies, allowing staff to engage with shoppers anywhere on the shop floor, be equipped with product information, video demos, stock availability as well as the ability to take payments remotely.

Our recent research (Registration Required) found that 32% of all customer facing workers said they use mobile devices to answer customers’ questions, meaning they can enhance the shopper experience and drive conversions. 33% of customer facing respondents claim to use mobiles to communicate with colleagues about work related issues, enabling them to speed up internal communication throughout the organisation and breakdown information bottlenecks.

Yet, despite bring-your-own-device (BYOD) at work becoming more common in the retail sector, it seems there is still widespread confusion and managerial ‘mistrust’ around mobiles in the workplace. A third of retail staff (37%) said that their employer does not approve of mobile devices being used within stores. Further, 40% of retail staff think that trust around mobile device use at work is an issue, compared to 28% of non-retail staff.

Our research also showed that many retail workers are unclear as to the policy for using mobile devices during working hours – which, considering the potential benefits to both the customer and the employee, is not ideal. For example, while nearly a third (31%) of employees said they are not allowed to use personal devices at work, a further quarter (26%) said they are confused about personal device policy at work. Despite this uncertainty, retail employees are still using their mobile devices while at work, for an average of 1.3 hours a day.

Even when mobiles are allowed in the workplace, trust is still a big concern for employees. 41% worried their employer or customers would assume they are using their device for personal purposes, even when they are using it for work-related activities, prompting them to use their mobile discretely for fear they are being judged by management.

Unease around mobile policy and use could potentially have a negative impact on the customer experience, as retail workers may be put off using their devices to aid shopper journeys. This is particularly concerning, as nearly half of staff (44%) said they find mobile devices helpful when serving customers, and a further 51% said that mobile devices help them to do their job better.

Surprisingly, even in this digital age, it’s clear there is a disconnect between what benefits mobile devices and BYOD policies can deliver – both in terms of consumer experience and organisational efficiencies – and managerial mistrust around employees’ use of mobiles in the workplace.

As a result, to ensure that staff have the tools they need to effectively do their job and deliver against heightened customer expectations, companies need to place more trust in employees and embrace mobile and BYOD usage to ensure they can provide the best customer service possible. 

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