Mobile 'Store of the Future'

Conference speakers detail future uses of mobile technology at stores

Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

ST. CHARLES, Ill. -- The influence of mobile technology on retail outlets will be pervasive, going beyond mobile payment and loyalty applications, said speakers at a mobile-retailing conference held last week.

In many ways, mobile technology will bring retailing back to the turn of the century, when shop keepers were able to get to know customers and treat them on a first-name basis, according to Tony Doye, CEO of CompuCom, Dallas.

"As retailing grew, that relationship was not scaleable," Doye said. "Today we can build that one-on-one relationship with the customer."

Speaking before about 500 attendees at a mobile-retailing conference called RAMP held in the Chicago-area last week, Doyle and co-presenter Erik McMillan, CEO of BestFit Mobile, Austin, Texas, said that with the proper infrastructure in place, store staff will be able to personalize interactions with customers and along with digital signage and mobile messaging, can communicate relevant deals and loyalty incentives.

McMillan detailed several elements that will be a part of that mobile "store of the future":

  • In-store associate apps. Tablets or other mobile devices in the hands of associates can keep them informed of store promotions as well as identify loyal shoppers. The idea is to keep store personnel as informed as possible in real time.
  • "Endless aisle." In-store tablets or kiosks accessible to customers can allow for the purchase of items kept in the back room or outside of the store.
  • Digital signage integration. Ties to in-store TVs can communicate specials or even messages to specific customers.
  • Mobile point-of-sale (POS). Retailers are already testing mobile technology that allows associates to check people out without being at a stationary cash register. This technology can aid in line busting.

Still, none of these solutions exists without backup infrastructure, said Doye. Elements in place on the "back end" of the equation would include mobile-app development, systems integration and mobile "cloud" infrastructure.

In its second year, the RAMP conference is presented by the New York City-based Morrissey Group, offering an educational platform covering mobile applications at retail. RAMP looks at emerging payment models and platforms including merchant coalitions, mobile wallets and how retailers are leveraging mobile and digital to enhance the customer experience. Other topics include how retailers are moving towards omni-channel platforms, how to mobilize in-store staff as well as manage mobility in the enterprise, how to tie front-end applications to back-end operations and how to manage "big data."

Angel Abcede, CSP/Winsight By Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP
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