Survey Says: Retail Associates Want Mobile Capabilities

Jan 19, 2011 3:40 AM  By

The majority of surveyed retail associates, 55%, believe that this holiday season’s shoppers were better connected to consumer information than in-store associates. That’s largely because of the increasing availability of online shopping tools and mobile phone applications that allow price comparisons, access to coupons and social-networking.

According to the survey of 545 in-store associates by Motorola Solutions, retailers aren’t investing in technology to stay ahead of increasingly tech-savvy shoppers are hurting their own bottom line. But the results suggest arming retail store employees with mobile devices would help them offer the same levels of customer service that the customer is providing itself on its own smartphones.

Nearly three in 10 (28%) store visits ended with an average of $132 unspent due to abandoned purchases driven by deal-habituated behavior, out-of-stocks, limited store associate assistance and long check-out processes, according to 1,056 consumers who were polled for a second part of the survey.

But the survey indicates that when surveyed shoppers received guidance from a retail associate armed with a handheld mobile computer, 43% reported the device improved their shopping experience.

The survey, released Jan. 10 the National Retail Federation’s Annual Convention, also says that 87% of retailers believe that shoppers can easily find a better deal on their own smartphones. So customer service – aided by access to real-time information – is more important than ever.

The study also verified that in-store mobile shopping in on the rise. The results showed that 12% of shoppers with smartphones checked prices at other retailers online, while 8% checked availability at other stores.

Also, 85% of surveyed retail associates agreed that improving in-store communication between staff and managers would have a significant effect on customer satisfaction.

What’s more, 68% of surveyed retail associates said they would find the capability to scan barcodes to check inventory and availability of items requested by customers helpful in a small mobile device form factor that is deployed to every associate.

Two surveys were fielded by the research firm Research Now, one targeted to shoppers and one targeted to in-store associates or staff. Each survey was designed to reveal the experiences and attitudes that each group has toward the use of certain in-store technologies to enhance customer satisfaction.