Point of Conversation (PoC) in Retail
Written by Ian Slack
3 Min Read
Using Mobility to Change the Role of the Retail Associate from Transactional to Consultative
Customer expectations have evolved. They demand seamless experiences as they move from digital engagement to in-person visits to brick and mortar locations. It means retailers must pay close attention to:
- How customers research products before and during their store visit
- The role of the store associate
- Ways to meet customers where they are—whether in the aisles or a drive-through lane, etc.
- Improving the checkout/purchase process to eliminate queues at cash registers with solutions like mobile POS, kiosks, or self-check-out
Research from Stratix and IHL shows that it makes a big difference when associates can leverage mobile technology to assist shoppers as they consider and then purchase goods. Retailers who have deployed mobile solutions expect a 146 percent increase in sales over companies that have not.
At Stratix, we believe a key factor to success with mobile in retail is focusing on the “Point of Conversation” to greet, engage/shepherd, and close customers as they shop. With the increased data speeds and lower latency of 5G mobile networks and next-generation Wi-Fi 6, there are new opportunities to improve both associate and customer experiences because applications load faster and work better. The improvements mean new ways to leverage video and technology like augmented reality to delight customers with 3D product previews or virtual fitting rooms.
Here are some ways to improve the customer experience at each Point of Conversation (PoC) stage:
PoC Greet: Brick-and-mortar retailers have an opportunity to meet shoppers as they enter the store and learn more about them from loyalty programs, which show past purchases and buying behaviors. Using technology such as beacons, associates can automatically receive information as shoppers enter the store with their personal mobile device that has the loyalty app. Greeting the customer and offering to help shepherd them to what they’re looking for can be a highly-personalized experience.
PoC Engage/Shepherd: Associates can use mobile technology and conversation-based selling to help customers with questions they have on product features, inventory availability, past purchases, and even to upsell with additional items to accessorize or complement the purchase. It’s important to hire sales associates capable of being shepherds and guiding shoppers without heavy-handed sales techniques. But, with mobile in their hands and the right supply-chain/Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications in place, associates are uniquely equipped to guide the customer through the stages of buying (research, consideration, choice, decision). Large retails once left shoppers largely on their own in the decision-making process. But now, the opportunity is there to shepherd and guide the shopper as they navigate the store. You can create so-called “endless aisles” that seamlessly connect the physical store with digital, so when something is not in stock, it can be quickly ordered and delivered to a customer’s home.
PoC Close: With mobile POS solutions, associates can now continue the conversation through the actual purchase by taking payment in the aisles instead of handing the customer off to a checkout line/queue. This makes the customer feel more valued, and they get a higher level of customer service.
Give Customers Choice
While many customers want the personalized experience mobile PoC solutions can bring, others prefer a do-it-yourself approach. Mobility helps there too. Mobile applications and self-check-out options give them the information they need with the automation to get them in and out speedily.
Mobility is a key part of the transformation of retail from associates being transactional to associates being consultative to improve the customer experience. It requires choosing the right technology and supporting it well, so solutions are always available and online for associates to guide the customer along the path to purchase. Stratix is skilled at helping retailers plan, deploy, manage and support mobility. We work with some of the largest retailers in the world. If you want to use mobile retail technology to reimagine your customer experiences, Stratix can help you get there.