A glance at retail stores, suggests they’re still not fully utilising technology and embracing disruption – there’s still overuse of traditional functions like paper, email, fax and PCs which can result in high cost and slow processes. Digital mobile app solutions enable diverse approaches to improving the day to day running and management of stores.

Smartphones and tablets are now technically mature and surpass traditional solutions for data collection, functionality and user friendliness. Mobile devices, running on Android and iOS provide a solid platform for the use of professional apps in retail store operations.

Improvement of customer processes with clienteling apps

So-called clienteling apps on tablets allow shop assistants to gain a 360-degree view of the customer. Contact details, customer profile, wish lists, purchase history, open orders, returns, complaints history and social media activities are all visible and this helps deliver a better customer service. Collectively with the digital assortment and product information on the tablet as well as with real-time information on product availability, the customer can be seamlessly guided through every purchase journey.

Professional merchandise management based on smartphones

Some mobile devices have been particularly developed for professional use in retail logistics. These professional devices are based on high-performance smartphone hardware and proven operating systems, such as Android. They have a low weight, robust construction, technically simple to expand and easy to use. Due to their intuitive user interface, effective merchandise management can be carried out on smartphones without major training.

App-based resource planning

Staffing and resource planning is extremely complex in the retail sector due to longer opening hours, fluctuating customer volumes, staff attrition, and different role types. Modern resourcing systems facilitate a precise forecast of the required staff capacity in the store based on sales forecasts. App-based deployment planning with a cloud connection offers a unified view resourcing and current deployment plans for store managers, team leaders and employees.

Faster and better decisions with mobile reporting solutions

The use of mobile reporting solutions in stores has great advantages. On one hand, mobile apps on smartphones with a connection to the company-wide IT landscape can shorten the time lag between data processing and usage to just a few seconds. This enables faster and improved product choices, real time stock and pricing decisions. On the other hand, employees and store managers receive comprehensive and prompt feedback on decisions taken in store. This significantly accelerates the learning and innovation process in the store.

What action is needed to digitalise stores?

Digital transformation in stores through the implementation of smartphone technology requires parallel changes in store and to the mainframe IT. Analysis of the organisation’s strategy is necessary to define the objectives that should be aligned when using mobile devices in store. These should focus on customer experience, process costs and acceleration. By prioritising these objectives, the impacted areas where mobiles are being used can be measured and evaluated.

Adopting an agile developed mobile solution, pilot tests should be carried out quickly in key stores to understand results and to iteratively improve the in store solution. Training activities for store managers and employees are necessary so that the newly arising technical possibilities can be recognised and used.

Clear responsibilities and competencies for the development and operation of the digital processes should be agreed and established by central strategy teams in the organisation, working in collaboration with store users.

In addition, organisations need to understand the existing master data management to make sure this provides a qualitative viable foundation for highly-automated and intelligent mobile solutions. The mobile use of sensitive company data, such as employee master data, purchasing prices and disposition parameters, pose new security challenges for IT leaders.

Stores can only be digitally transformed successfully, using mobile applications, when process changes are carried out simultaneously.