Making BYOD a success in retail

Published on the 07/01/2013 | Written by Mobico

Mobile phone retail

Retail BYOD shifts the focus of the retail assistant from expertise to enablement, but will the customer journey suffer? Aldas Palubinskas discusses this up and coming trend…

The notion of a marketing and sales strategy based on in-store BYOD seems to be an exciting one for bricks and mortar retailers. It relies on shoppers using the store-provided app on their own mobile device to access product information, prices and offers, but the real question is whether they will be encouraged to spend and will they come back?

If shoppers are looking at their phones and not your shelves, are you in trouble? Retailers work hard and spend millions to create captivating and enjoyable in-store experiences for shoppers. Rent, fittings, stock, staff, lighting, displays and advertising. So why would they turn expensive bricks and mortar into e-tail? Why spend big bucks getting shoppers instore, only to direct their eyes to the mobile devices in their hands and away from your merchandise and staff?

If they’re struggling, they’re not buying
From a shop assistant’s perspective, there is a potentially new conversation that springs from the simple question “Can I help you?” When they see someone cursing their smartphone in an aisle these days, they ask themselves, “Are they having a text fight with their partner? Has their shopping-list just crashed or has their battery run out? Have they found a cheaper price somewhere else? Has their smartphone dropped off the store network and won’t reconnect? Why are they taking so long to buy something?”

Is BYOD a good customer journey?
So, with that in mind, does BYOD offer a good customer journey? Is it fast, reliable and consistent? And as most shoppers only have two arms, is it ergonomic? How do you easily carry more than one item while using a smartphone? What if you drop it, or drop your smartphone? How well does a smartphone scan? During BYOD trials in Europe and America, retailers have found some shoppers persevere and some give up. Like self-checkout, BYOD works for some shoppers, some of the time.

As with any customer journey, the better the experience, the more people want it. But the reverse also applies.

What is the future for BYOD in retail?
There are many aspects around the usability and uptake of BYOD that retailers and shoppers will work through over the next few years. In Europe and America some of the larger retailers have already started. The conceptual answer is simple, “the use of BYOD in store is about continuing a dialogue with customers”. The shopper’s device has an app. 

The store detects when they arrive and the store system provides reminders and recommendations supported by offers and information. Store assistants also have a device, so that they can add to the interaction and experience, be part of the dialogue and provide additional assistance including fetching, packing, wrapping and payment.

Noticeably, what is missing is the advice. In the BYOD scenario, the assumption is that mostly the shopper is informing themselves while being guided by the store’s customer-relationship-come-customer-dialogue application.

The assistant is there to close and fulfil the transaction. BYOD shifts the focus (and training) of the retail assistant from expertise to enablement. The conundrum for consumers and retailers is whether this method of retail will sustain the levels of investment and margin that are required to retain the in-store experiences shoppers enjoy today.

Furthermore, how many of us want to shop this way? Maybe we just want to walk in and quickly get what we came for, then leave. After all, with traffic the way that it is, who has time to muck around on their smartphone in-store anyway? But don’t despair if you just prefer to shop and go. Now that retailers know shoppers are tech savvy, they can provide proven in-store technologies such as price checkers and self scan systems that help customers shop better and faster. 

Will BYOD change the way we shop Downunder?
BYOD will change the way we shop. We are seeing it already at Mobico where we are working with retailers on these types of projects right now. In 2013 you will see more BYOD concepts tested in store. In addition to this, more staff are taking the initiative of using their own devices in-store to help customers. And shoppers are increasingly using third-party price checking and consumer advice apps while in-store. For the retailers that provide them, price checkers and self scan systems are proven to increase sales and loyalty by 10 to 20 percent, so you may well see a resurgence of these. One thing is for sure, retailers are constantly coming up with clever ways to help us spend more of our time and money with them!


T: +64 9 303 0686

This article was supplied to iStart by Mobico. Aldas Palubinskas is Managing Director of Mobico. For 10 years Mobico has been Motorola’s leading ANZ retail solutions partner.

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