RSR Research: How to Fix a Broken Store
Through a special arrangement, presented here
for discussion is a summary of an article from Retail Paradox, Retail Systems
Research’s weekly analysis on emerging issues facing retailers.
Research very recently published our annual store report. In a nutshell? In-store
employees are bringing a knife to a gun fight. Customers are walking in off
the street armed with knowledge and the technology
to get more in an instant, while store managers continue to be tethered
to back room tasks and on-floor associates flounder to meet consumers’ needs.
can be done to solve this problem? For starters, retailers can embrace the
wireless technologies their customers already have. Early on in the report,
retailers told us they are steadily warming to the fact that wireless devices
are driving traffic to the store, but that they have become red-hot for tapping
those wireless devices’ potential once inside the store. Further still, they
told us they want to use social networking opportunities to engage with consumers
while they are in-house. Yet 30 percent tell us they still have no wireless
network of any kind available in stores, and only 12 percent have wireless
available for their customers. Wi-fi is the missing cornerstone to a better
built (and more relevant) store.
As anyone who has ever tried to access Facebook during
peak hours on a cellular connection will tell you – this just doesn’t
cut it. In order to interact with customers in any way via the consumer’s
personal device, Wi-Fi is an absolute must.
And as the widespread advent of
4G networks promises to increase the amount of content-rich data streaming to
smartphones at any given moment, many telecommunications experts believe that
the bandwidth of cellular networks will soon become even more congested, causing
cellular connectivity to become less reliable than the 3G networks of today.
If this holds true, free Wi-Fi will become an even more compelling reason for
customers to shop your stores.
On the employee side, wireless devices give retailers
a means to arm their employees with the training and information they’ve
so vocally said they need to compete. They also give the store manager the
chance to be where a store manager needs to be most — on the selling
floor. While few retailers’ product
mix, store footprint, or security infrastructure may be ready for mobile checkout,
inventory tasks, performance management, product training and information,
receiving tasks all stand to benefit tremendously. None can operate
without a secure wireless network.
For those who are stalling for security reasons,
the first step is a thoughtful reconsideration of what can be done in store
— for both employees and customers — that does not involve personal, sensitive,
or payment data. Next, consider the data that would be most valuable to share
with employees and customers and reevaluate the associated risks. For those
stalling for financial reasons, leasing the equipment required to establish
an in-store wireless network is a highly viable option.
No matter the scope
of any other project under discussion, wireless networks need to be prioritized
by every retailer right now.
- How to Fix a Broken Store – RSR Research
- The 21st Century Store: The Search for Relevance – RSR Research
Discussion Questions: What do you think of the benefits as well as the practicality of establishing Wi-Fi networks and equipping employees with wireless devices? How else should stores adjust to shoppers armed with wireless technologies?