The store is where the action is. If not why would retailers have them? It seems retailers are scrambling to put tablets in the hands of every employee in the store so they can be more customer focused; really? I will tell you about an experience at a high-end retailer that is doing extremely well in the apparel market, yet missing the boat with what they are doing with in-store technology. I walk into this retail store with my wife on Madison Ave in New York City while on our anniversary trip. I say this because my wife is the one shopping and I am really just snooping. The experience was wonderful with bright and genuinely happy people greeting us as we entered and also offering us a Perrier or coffee. The sales associate is holding a tablet, so I had to ask! What is that for? Smiling he goes about showing me what it does. This is where I start to scratch my head.
First thing is it was awkward for him to share what was on the screen. Second there was no real value I perceived as a potential customer who might buy something. I saw pictures of items in a catalog but there was no point of reference to what he should show me. We finally came to the conclusion that I needed to be a customer in their data base before he could release all of the value the tablet had to offer. That is where it really got screwy! He was trying to type in my information on the touch screen which was cumbersome, but also had a serious delay time from when you entered something until the application was ready to accept more data. I was at this point embarrassed for the guy. He ended up connecting one of those snap-on keyboards because he had to go to yet another system and enter the same information all over again. I then inquired about how he would take my money if I had cash or a check since there seemed to be no cash drawer or printer around. He tells me the POS is in the back room where he would need to go disappear to make the transaction. Does this sound like customer focused added value to you?
I do believe these mobile tablet devices can be of great value, but you must clearly understand what it can do well and what it cannot. Any sort of keyboard intensive data entry is a non-starter. If you are going to share suggested purchases make sure you have a locked down and repeatable dialog of bringing that information up in the engagement process and that you also know what you want to do physically with the tablet while sharing things with the customer. Do not have an hour glass come up every time you hit enter! These are a few items, but essentially I see retailers implementing these in-store devices where in my humble opinion they actually detract from the sale.
Understand exactly what you will be doing with these mobile devices and ensure the experience creates a positive output. Work with people who know what works and does not work. Do not just go out there with a solution you purchased and hope it turns out good. It won’t! This again is where you must look hard at your business and truly understand what makes or better yet will make you more relevant and valuable to your customers.