STORES - October 2010 - (Page 32)

MOBILE IN RETAIL / OPERATIONS Liberation Technology Hardware, applications can keep managers on the sales floor BY FRED MINNICK erhaps the iPhone commercial that has since been satirized said it best: “There’s an app for that.” As retailers explore the realm of mobile technology, they can be forgiven if they think they’re being bombarded with applications for issues they didn’t even know they had. P But is this mobile boom akin to the 1990s dot-com spike, or does it more closely resemble the rise of the catalog a century earlier? Sears likes to think it’s the latter. Just as the retail giant used the catalog to build its brand, Sears is considering mobile technology as a tool for improving almost every facet of its business — and has won numerous industry awards for successful mobile rollouts. Imran Jooma, president of e-commerce at Sears Holdings, says the focus of the company’s mobile initiatives centers on operations. Mobile tools and applications make “life easier” for associates and customers. “There are some tasks that mobile can really help [with],” he says. “We are breaking ground with much of this and … bridging the gap between online and offline. We’re not doing this because it’s the flavor of the day — we can really help a customer’s needs.” Jooma wouldn’t identify the specific tools and applications Sears has deployed, but the company has implemented or is testing a variety of operational apps on multiple mobile devices in the store environment. These apps are putting more information at associates’ fingertips and allowing them to leverage that data to better serve customers. “So far the results have been positive,” he says. Total shipments of smartphones Freeing the store manager are expected he store- and district-level opera- to increase tions management apps include warehouse, store inventory, supply chain, barcode scanning, workforce (269.6 million) by the end of management and other programs dethe year. ployed with the same goal: Liberating (International Data the store manager from the back office. Corp.) The thinking is that if, by using a mobile device, a manager can perform all the analytics that used to keep her anchored to a desk, she can spend more time on the sales floor with customers. “Every hour given back to the store manager directly correlates to an increase in sales,” says Noel Goggin, vice president of retail strategy and development for RedPrairie. At one of his company’s retail customers, each of those hours resulted in six new transactions, he says. “Every hour given back to the store manager directly correlates to an increase in sales.” — Noel Goggin, RedPrairie “That’s a huge return,” Goggin says. “These are areas where people have seen significant value.” Having the metrics and other information at hand that can help close a sale is a tremendous benefit, says Jay Cichosz, director of marketing for Wavelink, a provider of terminal emulators, mobile device and wireless infrastructure management and mobile application development software solutions. In addition to freeing the manager from the back room, these technologies can give associates real-time access to district-level inventory “without leaving the show floor,” he says. “This reduces costs and increases sales while keeping managers out of back room looking for inventory.” Supply chain improvements he Men’s Wearhouse uses mobile technology to access the inventory of nearby stores. This can be critical if an associate has spent 30 minutes with a customer getting just the right cut and color of a suit – only to learn that the store doesn’t have the jacket in the correct size. Without abandoning the customer, the associate can locate the jacket and arrange to have it delivered to the store the next day. T 55.4% T 32 STORES / OCTOBER 2010 WWW.STORES.ORG http://WWW.STORES.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of STORES - October 2010

STORES - October 2010
Editor’s Page
President’s Page
Retail People
Customer Experience
Game Changer
Power Players
NRFtech Recap
Concept 2 Watch
Customized Shopping
Consumer Behavior
Software & Analytics
Crowd Control
Payment Fraud
ARTS Update
Point of View
NRF News
Retail Industry Calendar
End Cap

STORES - October 2010