How retailers are harnessing the rise of mobile technology
Every year, Retail TouchPoints surveys retail executives across verticals to put together their annual Store Ops Benchmark Survey that highlights trends and key areas of focus in the industry.
Analyzing the 2023 Store Ops Benchmark Survey against the 2022 Store Ops Benchmark Survey we can identify the priorities of actual retailers in the industry to determine key trends from the past 12 months, and begin to forecast what’s to come.
Investing in mobile technology
Retailers are investing more in new in-store technology, with the category seeing a 62% increase in budget from 2022 to 2023. This highlights a significant shift in the industry, as retailers prioritize the infusion of technology into their physical stores.
At the heart of this shift is an emphasis on mobility. With 71% of retailers arming their store associates with mobile devices in 2022, a number that grew to 82% this year. This indicates that the retail world is transitioning from traditional operations to a more dynamic and agile model, largely powered by mobile technology.
This shift is being driven by a number of factors, including the increasing popularity of ecommerce, the need to improve customer service, and the desire to streamline stores. Mobile technology can help retailers to address all of these challenges, and it is likely to play an increasingly important role in the retail industry in the years to come.
A focus on inventory
Within mobile technology we are seeing a surge in the use of mobile inventory (such as endless aisle tools) that organize, track, and even order products across channels.
In 2022, 3 of the top 4 uses for mobile technology were inventory and product related— accessing product information, accessing inventory levels/product availability, and online ordering of out-of-stock products. Then in 2023, we see those items jumping to top 3, with an increase in the frequency of their use among retailers. What does this mean?
From phenomena like the Amazon effect we know convenience is king. Customers aren’t just looking for a personal shopping experience, they’re looking for the convenience of getting what they need from brands and stores when they visit them. They want associates to be their one-stop-shop for answering their specific questions on products, making (and showcasing) tailored recommendations, and delivering items to them no matter where they’re located.
That’s why we see trends like ‘online ordering of out-of-stock products’ jumping above ‘mobile payment’— if a customer is in-store, they want what they came for, but since retailers can’t guarantee that every product will always be in-store, they need different ways to get it in customer’s hands, hence omnichannel ordering.
Mobile inventory tracking tools give associates on-the-spot access to see the detailed product information that allows them to answer questions like “What is the nylon content of this skirt?”, the insight to know that “No, we don’t have the black one in stock, but it is available online”, and the ability to say “I can actually order it for you right here, is the shipping address we have on file still correct?”.
Bringing it all together
The retail world is going mobile, driven by the growing popularity of e-commerce and the increasing demand for convenience. And mobile technology has had a significant impact on the retail industry.
Over half of retailers reported that mobile technology has helped to improve efficiency and productivity by providing employees with access to information and tools on the go. More productive employees mean a more productive store, and more productive stores are what drive the bottom line.
Download the full 2023 Store Ops Benchmark Survey to learn more about the key trends and challenges facing the retail industry including:
- Hiring and retaining associates
- How store operations budgets are allocated
- Investing in mobile technology
- Measuring omnichannel profitability and performance
If you liked this blog, check out these other titles: