One of the hottest buzzwords in retail right now is “omnichannel,” and this is important because tablets will be key to that inclusive strategy, albeit with some thoughtful planning.
Omnichannel is important because your shoppers are everywhere and you need to be where they are in order to capture the sale and build a strong customer relationship. Similar to multi-channel retailing, omnichannel combines all available shopping channels, i.e. mobile internet devices, computers, bricks-and-mortar, television, radio, direct mail, catalog and so on.
Tablets, which are key to this strategy, have expanded more quickly than anyone expected and consumer adoption is unprecedented. Some 31 percent of American adults own a tablet.* Consumers are using tablets along with other devices such as smartphones before, during and after their retail experiences.
Additionally, the ability to use tablets at bricks and mortar retail sites has many benefits and can lead to clear ROI.
Since EachScape provides a platform for building and managing mobile apps, we’ve seen the changes firsthand, and the successes that our clients have found by incorporating tablets into their omnichannel strategies, both for consumers directly, and internally for the enterprise.
The Nine West approach using tablets
Nine West, a division of The Jones Group, is a great example. Nine West wanted to put mobile technology to work, beginning with holiday season 2012. In their wholly- owned stores, the goal was to increase sales, educate sales associates, and improve training. At the same time, the company hoped to go greener and become more efficient by substituting traditional paper materials with improved digital alternatives. Although there were high expectations, Nine West had less than 90 days to go from concept to deployment.
To achieve this, Nine West rolled out an in-store iPad app that allows employees to show its Lookbook with style suggestions to shoppers, retrieve product info, place orders and provide training materials. The application is updatable through the stores’ Wi-Fi networks enabling fresh information at the sales associates’ fingertips.
The pilot program was a success on many fronts. It was the best Black Friday ever. Sales increased, and the company saved both money and the environment by shifting reams of paper documentation to the iPad. They’ll be rolling out more features and functionality in 2013 to increase the business benefits and return on investment.
(Tablets in Retail & Commerce will be a key panel at the upcoming TabletBiz conference & expo in New York on November 13.)
Some things that you should think about when considering programs like this include the following:
How does a tablet fit in with my offline and web initiatives? Can they be integrated?
If I’m reaching consumers on mobile directly, can I tie in my enterprise initiatives so it’s all connected, via loyalty programs, rewards, etc.?
Does a program like this delight the consumer through more selection, faster ordering or other benefits?
Do my retail outlets have the hardware and network to make this successful? If not, what do I need?
There are many considerations when implementing a mobile initiative. But, tablets provide a huge opportunity for retailers and one that delivers ROI. Retailers need to begin thinking about tablets as a seamless part of a broader shopping experience to fully harness the power of mobile.
(More articles about tablets and apps in the retail industry at TabTimes.com/retail)
*Pew Internet Project, 2013
Marci Weisler is the COO of EachScape, which makes software that lets companies build and manage apps for phones and tablets.