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Store Associates Want Mobile Devices For Inventory, Price Check

As part of its annual holiday shopper survey, Motorola also interviewed store associates and uncovered some very specific wants and needs. More than 68% of the 545 store associates interviewed would like to have mobile devices to “scan barcodes to check inventory/availability,” Motorola reported in its 2010 Retail Holiday Study.

A total of 64% of associates would use mobile technology to “scan barcodes for price check” and 50.5% would use mobile devices as walkie-talkies, to communicate with other store employees.

In general, approximately 33% of store associates believe they lack the information they need to serve today’s highly connected consumers. “Managers in particular feel the pressure of out-of-stock complaints,” the report noted.

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Equally troubling, approximately 28% of store visits end in an average of $132 unspent due to abandoned purchases, according to the report. The reasons for that abandonment varies from issues such as out-of-stocks to limited store associate assistance and long check-out processes. Shoppers also leave stores when they find a better deal at a competitor – often as a result of a real-time search on a personal mobile device.

The type of products abandoned in stores also varies, with clothing and accessories topping the list at 30.8%. Department store abandonment is at 25.9% and consumer electronics/computer purchases are abandoned 20.4% of the time.

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Opportunities To Save The Sale
With technology in hand, store associates could save a high percentage of potentially lost sales. More than 42% of shoppers said they would order an out-of-stock item and have it delivered to their home and 40% said they would come back to the store when the item is in stock for a 10% discount. In total, “up to 55% of out-of-stock incidents could be intercepted simply with store associate help to find the item(s) and complete the transaction,” the study noted.

Home Depot has taken note and has recently deployed 30,000 Motorola MC75s across its 1,970 stores. “Our DIY and professional customers come to Home Depot not only for our products, but for the knowledge and high level of customer service that we’ve provided over the years,” said Cara Kinzey, senior vice president of IT, Home Depot. “Equipping our associates with devices that allow them to check inventory, provide product information, print labels, communicate with other associates and even check-out customers with debit or credit cards from anywhere in the store, not only makes us more efficient, but also enables us to take our customer service to the next level.”

“Retailers have put their associates at a significant disadvantage to connected consumers with the majority citing that shoppers are better connected than their in-store associates,” added Frank Riso, senior director of retail solutions, Motorola Solutions. “With 87 percent of surveyed retail associates noting that shoppers can easily find a better deal, offering the best customer experience is more important than ever. Retailers need to arm their mobile associates with access to real-time information to level the shopping playing field.”

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