This is a guest post by Neil Jones of eMobilescan.
It’s the dawn of a new era when it comes to retail shopping. Mobile technology is steadily proving that it can make a huge impact in the buying decision process and that, when utilized wisely, can greatly influence customer loyalty.
How important is customer loyalty?
If you really look at it, getting customers to buy your products should only be secondary to gaining their loyalty. A new customer may be enticed to pick a product from your shelves and to proceed to the check- out counter. However, if he’s not happy with his shopping experience, if he’s not comfortable, you can’t count on him to give you sales every month; let alone every week.
But once a buyer feels right at home in your premises, it will take time for him to look elsewhere for his regular shopping needs. All the little innovations you make can be magnified in the eyes of a loyal customer.
Mobile Technology’s Impact on Shopping
Mobile technology is making a huge impact on society – no doubt about it. But it’s only the cell phone business that’s getting most of the media attention. We usually associate mobile technology with the latest iPhone, the growing number of Androids, and – for the teens in some countries – SMS messages.
What people don’t know is that mobile technology has already made its way into numerous store systems, where it has benefited both owners and the customers alike. In US, Japan, Brazil, and New Zealand, over 2,000 stores that have implemented mobile self-service shopping have been enjoying substantial sales growths as a result of increased customer loyalty.
What is mobile self-service shopping?
Stores that practice mobile self-service shopping typically use individualized handheld bar code scanners. When a customer walks into the store’s shopping premises, he is given one of these devices. He then scans items with it. The device can also be made to interface with self-weigh scales, provide a means of monitoring shopping lists, and finally, to check-out.
The effect has never been better for the customer. With this system, there is an impression of being in full control of the entire buying process.
Highly advanced IT systems
These mobile barcode scanners are just the front liners of a highly advanced IT system. In establishments where they are fully operational, these devices can be integrated with CRM systems, workforce management software, Business Intelligence and other smart IT systems.
These systems are able to provide insightful information to management so they may be empowered to make fast, well-informed decisions by simply looking at key metrics on a dashboard. Certain personnel may also make use of these systems to eliminate out-of-stock scenarios without necessarily having to over-stock.
Using more advanced mobile scanners, the shopping experience can be enhanced even further. Imagine being able to monitor stock availability yourself or to be prompted when an item you just scanned contains possible allergens. How about finding out the age of a product, relevant offers, or other related information?
Here’s a scenario for the modern-day DIY: 1) You inform the system what you want to do (e.g. build your own shelf or bake a cake). 2) The system displays on your handheld’s screen a list of things you need and perhaps some alternatives. 3) You scan items found in the list, which are then checked accordingly. 4) You check-out, pay, and step out of the store fully confident that you haven’t missed anything.
Smart purchase = Satisfaction = loyal customer
With these tools and shopping environment, customers will be able to make fast and smart decisions. At the end of the day, they go home feeling fully satisfied with their purchases and themselves. If you were the customer, wouldn’t you want to keep coming back?
Background about the author: Neil is head of marketing for eMobilescan, one of the UK’s leading hand held computer and data capture specialists. Offering the full range rugged PC’s include the Motorola MC55 PDA