Changes in store models mean that C-Suite must harness technology change initiatives

We are used to hearing about stores closing down dozens of shops, but there are many new technologies that promise to revive those remaining. The options available to retailers who are trying lifesaving technologies are overwhelming. While it is a positive thing that executives have signed off on systems to improve the way their employees interact with customers, they are not able to guarantee success. Many of the new platforms are not being used because the customer-facing associate, who is crucially the one using them, isn’t comfortable with the technology. Retailers are not achieving their goals and should reprioritize brick and mortar technologies so that they can focus on the store associates and customers.

Senior executives must understand that the right time is now to implement change initiatives. Decision makers must take the time to evaluate the true value of technology to customers before investing in another store system. The following areas need to be evaluated:

  • What will associates do with it to satisfy in-store customers’ needs?
  • How can management communicate with hundreds of employees about new technology and train them?

As a house cannot be built without framing the foundation, new store systems must be supported by store associates. This will increase their comfort with new initiatives, communicate instantly between all employees (store, district, and region) and objectively assess new system effectiveness.

Mobile is a key disruptor

The future of physical stores will be disrupted by technology, with mobile leading the charge. Tablets allow consumers to search products and prices in-store. This gives sales representatives the tools they need in order to satisfy customers’ needs and provide exceptional service. The mobile platform allows for instant two-way communication that helps retailers support their employees better.

Associate mobile devices improve the shopping experience by providing real-time inventory information and customer data. They also have the ability to serve customers and process transactions from anywhere within the store. Boston Retail Partners survey found that 89 percent of retailers plan to provide mobile solutions to store associates within the next three years. In most cases, mobile apps can be created internally in fractions of the time it takes to implement a complete mobile point–of-sale system. The study also found that many retailers focus only on the technical solution, and neglect the necessary process work to make the implementation a success.


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Change driven by mACP (mobile Associate Communications Platform).

Retail leaders who are successful can equip themselves with scientific communication platforms (such as the mACP) that enable them to build efficiency, customer and associate engagement, and increase sales. Technology must be adopted by senior executives to ensure that their store associates are more knowledgeable about the products than the shoppers.

A recent industry survey titled Consumer In–Store Shopping Survey found that 79 percent of respondents believed knowledgeable store associates were “important” or very important. 72% of those who responded said they had a better shopping experience if they used their mobile devices to get information, check out inventory, and make purchases. Nearly half of those who responded said that a knowledgeable associate would encourage them to shop in store if they could suggest products based upon their past purchases.

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Mobile can be used to help physical stores meet higher consumer expectations when it is used well. Mobile can help senior executives be more successful in introducing new technologies to their stores and helping associates adopt new initiatives that will improve their knowledge and enhance customer service. Be sure to have a plan in place for ensuring the success of any systems that improve employees’ interactions with customers and their work. Because you will be constantly challenged by change.


Sears to Shutter 72 Other Stores

Sears Holdings announced Thursday that it will close more than 70 stores in 2018 due to its continuing decline in sales. The retailer had identified 100 non-profitable Sears/Kmart stores earlier this year and today announced that 72 of those stores would be closed “in the near future”. Sears released a statement to announce its fiscal results for the first quarter. It stated: “We continue evaluating our network of shops, which are a crucial component in our transformation and will make further adjustments if necessary and as warranted.” According to the company, the list of stores that will be closing will be released sometime Thursday. Sears also announced that an independent committee is currently evaluating a deal in which the company would sell certain assets to ESL Investments CEO Eddie Lampert.

Total Retail’s View: Sears continues its downward spiral and is trying to survive. The retailer plans to reduce costs by closing down unprofitable stores. The retailer is looking to cut costs by closing down unprofitable stores. However, sales have declined further without showing signs of a turnaround for its iconic retail brand. Sears reported a loss in its first quarter and revenue dropped more than 30% to $2.89 Billion from $4.2 Billion a year earlier. The key indicator used to assess a retailer’s health is the same-store sales. They were down by 11.9 percent. Many industry experts believe Sears is in dire financial straits and are considering filing for bankruptcy.


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