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Retailers see mobile technology filling the role of an efficiency tool and cost-reducer, and at the same time, becoming a prime marketing vehicle, according to an audience poll during Progressive Grocer’s recent webcast on wireless mobility in the retail store. While 31.2 percent viewed mobile technology as purely a marketing vehicle and 12.5 percent saw it as an internal tool, more than half (56.2 percent) considered mobile technology both.
According to a recent study by Aberdeen Group study (see below), the need for better access to information is the top business driver of mobility initiatives in the retail industry.
By better access, I mean having the ability to obtain sales, service and operations-related information — when you need it and where you need it. An example of this could be a category manager examining item movement data on his PDA while he stands in an aisle of the store.
Or a fleet driver, on his way from the DC to a store, who receives a text alert on his cell phone about traffic conditions along his route, along with directions for an alternate route that will keep him on schedule.
Or something as simple as bringing a wireless POS into the store’s parking lot for a grill sale.
But, for most retailers, there is an information access gap — a delay between the time an information need is determined, and the time when that information is delivered. This information access gap can impact a store’s productivity and service levels — and the bottom line.
Here’s an example: A shopper asks a store manager about the availability of a product that’s out of stock on the shelf. To find out if the product is in the backroom inventory, the manager must ask the shopper to wait as he walks to the backroom, locates an inventory associate, looks for the product, then walks back to the shopper and brings her the product or the bad news.
Even if the product is available, the shopper still had to wait for it. On top of this, the manager just lost five minutes he could have spent with shoppers; the backroom inventory associate lost five minutes of receiving new inventory; and, because of this, the truck will be five minutes late for its next delivery, and so on …
And if the product’s not available, he loses all that and maybe the shopper, too.
Now, picture the same scenario, except instead of making a trip to the back of the store, the manager simply pulls out his PDA, clicks a few buttons and, after a few seconds, tells the shopper, “We do have the product in the backroom, please continue your shopping and I’ll bring it out to you.”
Not only did the manager satisfy the shopper’s need, but he also demonstrated how the store employees are valuable information resources for shoppers.
During the webcast, which was sponsored by Cisco and IBM, two experts from the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) described how the grocer leverages wireless technology in its operations.
DeCA is a $5.8 billon global retailer with approximately 180 stores that serve military personnel and their families. Since only those with military credentials can enter the stores, this is one of the few opportunities for civilians to see what goes on behind the scenes with this innovative retailer. (Progressive Grocer, however, was the first trade publication in DeCA’s 120-year history to be granted access to one of its stores. To see the story, click here:
To view the archived webcast, click here: