Thinking mobile: how should portable technology be integrated into stores?

Thinking mobile: how should portable technology be integrated into stores?

Triplar Project Manager Alastair Jones discusses the role of mobile technology in modern stores.

“Where can we permanently positon an iPad in-store?” This is not an uncommon request from clients who are keen to integrate tablet technology into their stores, showcasing native applications or ecommerce stores. But does this kind of thinking miss the point?

A fixed unit for a tablet, complete with power supply, is not an uncommon request. Retailers want to use portable technology in taking a multi-channel approach to their retail operations, but then implement it in a 20th Century way – assigning it to a corner of the shop floor, or as an extension of the cash desk.

I would suggest that understanding how these technologies can be used as intended makes far more sense. If you are discussing a jacket or shoes and don’t have it in the right colour or size, would it not

be best to bring this technology over to where the customer is? Retailers are beginning to do this more, but there does seem to be still some misunderstanding as to what this technology can do.

No doubt, retailers are spending a lot of time and effort honing the retail experience within their stores; with increased focus on design, brand, layouts and staff training in recent years. But the application of technology within the store does not seem to have moved on apart from the occasional brand or flagship store doing something unexpected (and usually gimmicky) with technology.

Structural changes in retailers, with investment in the ‘360 degree retailer’ and ‘clicks and mortar’ has given a rise to increasingly sophisticated multichannel and click and collect services – but translating this in-store has beguiled even the biggest brands.

Effective Wi-Fi management and charging also means tablets have the potential to be truly mobile and fulfil roles that entirely subvert conventional retailing. In the US a number of chains are using tablets as part of their till operations, doing away with the cash desk and queueing. And as card transactions continue to outstrip cash payments this will make increasing sense.

Making the shopping experience easier for the shopper is always going to be beneficial and yield a more favourable experience. And using tablet computers and other associated technology to either provide further information, options or to make the sale more quickly is going to be a huge positive.

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