Top 3 IT investment priorities for retailers to succeed in today’s new consumer age: Mobility (1/3)

3 min read

Last week our CEO posted an interesting article where he shared our vision about the huge opportunity we see in Retail with the Openbravo Commerce Platform. In this post he referred to a recently released study , which states that 82% of retailers were planning to increase their IT budget and 79% were planning to increase their stores´ IT budget.

According to this study Mobility, Cloud and Cross-Channel are within the top IT investment priorities for retailers. This is quite aligned with our vision and I wanted to elaborate on our take on these three capabilities through a series of 3 blog posts. Let us start with Mobility.

Mobile-enabled operation is a priority for retailers. Its impact on the enterprise is transformational. The many possible applications of mobility in retail are extensive and varied but retailers invest in mobility mainly to enhance the customer´s experience and to improve business efficiency.

This transformation impacts the whole organization, but the retail area that is most benefited from mobility is store operation.

Commerce_Be future StoreAs stated in a very interesting RIS article, mobile POS penetrates deeply into the critical realms of the shopping experience and customer satisfaction.  Common retail functions like “save-the-sale” tools, upselling and cross-selling features, cross-channel capabilities or customer management features, when directly operated from a mobile device, are changing the way in which store associates service their customers. The interest in mobile POS is especially important for speciality hardgoods and softgoods retailers for whom an interactive assisted sale everywhere in the store makes all the difference. All these trends explain why both customers and sales associates consider the use of mobile solutions as a way to provide a better shopping experience and why the adoption of mobile POS has tripled according to our study.

Mobile POS provides higher agility as well especially if it is a Mobile Web POS which only requires a browser to be run as the Openbravo Web POS. Retailers can rapidly add and replace terminals, start processing sales or opening new stores.  Mobile Web POS also provides independence from the mobile technology (iOS, Android and others) for more flexible deployment options in regards to the hardware to be used.

Store backoffice operations can also benefit from mobility. A clear example is the facility to manage the inventory more efficiently. Goods movements, goods receipts or inventory counts managed from mobile devices provide higher accuracy and help to process information in real time.

There are several aspects that must be properly considered by retailers in the definition of their enterprise mobility strategy to address the specific operational challenges they face, like security and cost of the infrastructure.

One decision retailers must take is the use either of consumer-grade or retail hardened devices. ROI and appearance arguments can be considered depending on the use these devices will have. Preferences on the vendor (Apple, Android or Windows) will also influence the final choice.

Doing business the modern wayAdopting wide mobility will also require analysis of the capacity of the existing Wi-Fi infrastructure. This is especially important in the stores if retailers decide to provide free Wi-Fi access which is one of the strategies followed to embrace showrooming. However, this can be an expensive decision and some retailers like JC Penney already decided to eliminate free in-store Wi-Fi last year after having offered it previously.

Security is also another important and especially challenging concern with regards to BYOD policies and the growing adoption of consumer-owned devices within the enterprise which in­creases the importance of mobility management.

What do you think? I would love to hear from you to enrich our vision. As a retailer, what is your company strategy in regards to mobility?