Retailers have been quick to realize that the profile of customers is rapidly changing, and that they are now highly empowered. The proliferation of mobile devices has been the key enabling technology behind this shift. Retailers have begun addressing these omni-channel customers, by providing a seamless experience across all shopping channels, and by communicating and addressing the customers via their preferred channels, including mobile devices. However, while the industry has made considerable progress in engaging with customers through mobile solutions, retailers have lagged behind in using these solutions to engage with the workforce.
This is set to change. As retailers recognize that effective labor management processes can be a strategic competitive differentiator, and given the way mobile technology has transformed just about every facet of our lives, retailers are giving greater priority to mobile workforce management (WFM) solutions. This was further confirmed by our retailer survey in May 2012, where we polled retailers about key elements of their approach to workforce management, including productivity, execution improvement, and top strategies for 2012 and beyond.
We asked retailers to tell us which technologies they plan to deploy by the end of the year or start of 2013. For future deployments starting in 2012, mobile-enabled technologies rank second (30.8% for task management software with mobile device support) and fourth (23.1% for mobile device apps to request associates in store).
Mobile workforce management can be beneficial for all labor management tasks within an enterprise, including scheduling, time and attendance, and training and development. Mobile solutions can be used to drive greater collaboration between employees, who in turn can provide improved service quality to the customer. Staff communication, shift scheduling, work scheduling etc. may be communicated to the employee on his/her mobile device, saving time spent in tracking down employees. By communicating with the employees via their chosen communication channel, employee satisfaction and productivity improve. Training programs may also be delivered via the mobile device, and the employee can watch these presentations at a convenient time, further enhancing productivity and satisfaction.
With all the relevant data available on the mobile device, the sales staff has inventory, pricing and product information, etc., at its fingertips, and need never leave the customer's side. The store manager is freed from his/her desk, and can be on the retail sales floor to keep a finger on the pulse of the store. Mobile workers will be empowered to respond to customer and shop floor needs in a dynamic manner.
These are just some of the ways in which mobile solutions can be used to empower the retail employee, leading to increased productivity and satisfaction. This, in turn, will lead to a positive customer experience, which is today the number one, key differentiator of a successful retail organization.