TekSESSIONS 2011: C. Wonder, Pacific Sunwear, Things Remembered Succeed With In-Store Mobility

The powers of mobile technology allow consumers to obtain information instantly and from almost anywhere. These capabilities also provide retailers with a low-hanging fruit opportunity to engage with shoppers and increase purchase rates on the store floor. During the 2011 tekSESSIONS conference, Sandeep Bhanote, Vice President and General Manager of VeriFone and GlobalBay shared retail success stories of enterprise mobility. The conference took place Nov. 9 to 11, 2011, at the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center in Schaumburg, Ill.

In his presentation, titled “Get Mobile Now Without Starting Over,” Bhanote cited industry research which indicates that within five years, Internet access via mobile devices will exceed that of desktop devices. The increased penetration of consumer-grade technology, such as iPhones, iPads and Androids, provides retailers with a prime opportunity to interact with shoppers on a more media-rich and personalized manner, Bhanote stated. However, many retailers are struggling to determine an optimal strategy that fits their brand image and allows them to implement mobile in store locations.

“As a consumer, you want to be able to do something [research products and price compare] with your mobile device while in a store,” Bhanote said. “On the other side of the table, executives, store associates and managers want to know why they can’t use their devices to interact with customers. Culturally, we’re embracing mobile at a completely different level.”


The low price point of iOS devices and Androids presents retailers with a prime opportunity to run pilots and determine an optimal enterprise mobility strategy, according to Bhanote.

“We’re at a stage with mobile where we can try something and not get our fingers burned,” Bhanote explained. “The cost of entry is extremely low, and the ability to solve a problem and be able to measure ROI is totally realistic and possible within three months.”

A primary benefit of implementing mobile technology in-store is improving line-busting strategies by allowing customers to make purchases anywhere and anytime. Store associates also can implement clienteling tools and tap into customer data to view purchase history and preferences. In turn, store associates can develop more efficient cross-sell and upsell tactics.

Bhanote spotlighted several retailers that have successfully implemented mobile technology in their store locations, including:

C. Wonder: C. Wonder offers a high-end, in-store experience and an array of merchandise, from clothing to home goods. The retailer provides mobile checkout, with store associates armed with iPod Touch hardware to allow a seamless buying process. Mobilized checkout areas also are placed throughout the store so shoppers can complete purchases without help from sales personnel.

Pacific Sunwear: Implementing iPads in-store allows Pacific Sunwear to pique consumer interest. By tapping into this technology, the retailer is able to prevent lost sales and allow shoppers to scan QR codes, view sales events and browse through online inventory. Pacific Sunwear is utilizing the new devices in 400 locations nationwide and is rolling out the strategy in an additional 200 stores, according to Bhanote.

Things Remembered: This retailer’s unique value proposition is giving shoppers the ability to buy an item and personalize it with engravings. Due to a myriad of font styles, colors and messages, the entire personalization process became too daunting for sales associates. To address this issue, Things Remembered mounted iPads throughout its stores, allowing customers to upload and preview a trial version of their engraved items and examine total cost. Once an order is completed, shoppers print a receipt and bring it to check out to complete their transactions.

These examples indicate that “the product promise of mobility here,” said Bhanote. “Retailers are using this technology to make their brands more interesting, change their businesses and differentiate themselves to compete for consumers’ dollars.”

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