Tablets on the sales floor

shutterstock_212317888The retail industry and indeed a number of other industries like hospitality are turning their attention to tablets. The attraction being that they are an affordable and flexible way to provide convenient service to customers and manage back of house tasks.

Right now the tablets are still finding their place. In store they are popping up at till points to save space and are carried around by staff who can quickly assist a customer on the spot and cut queues, in a restaurant they work very well in place of a pen and paper for taking diners’ orders and are also used for self service at the table, while in a hotel they are often placed on the front desk to greet guests and as the main device for accessing in room controls for the TV and lights.

Many businesses test the water by simply introducing a single tablet, which in time can be increased, once needs have been established and budget approved. In fact, according to Retail Info Systems (RIS) in its paper ‘Tablets on the rise’, in the case of the retailers 31.7% start safely with just the one tablet, 29.3% opt for two to cover their backs in case one fails and because they aren’t too costly, and more than a quarter (26.8%) say they will deploy more than five per store; clearly seeing a future for the device.

Frank Mayer and Associates, in their paper ‘Using tablets to transform retail experience’ said “As a tool for channel convergence, the success of tablets may lie in their ability to reduce friction that shoppers encounter at any number of points trying to complete a task. Though not every deployment offers a comprehensive array of customer services, including inventory lookup, purchase history, ordering, loyalty integration and payment acceptance, tablets allow retailers to selectively implement new strategies to bridge the online and in store realms”.

What are retailers top 10 calls for tablets in store?

The main reasons retailers are likely to add network-enabled tablets to their stores, according to Retail Info Systems (RIS) ‘Tablets on the rise’, are for:

  1. Sales floor support
  2. Mobile POS
  3. Connect to enterprise apps
  4. Increase conversions
  5. Increase comp store sales
  6. Line busting Updating/refreshing store experience
  7. Connect to digital channels
  8. Increase market basket size
  9. Ensuring merchandising compliance
  10. Ensuring planogram compliance

Once installed RIS reports that retailers assign the following functions, in order of use, to the tablets:

  • Inventory/product look up
  • PoS
  • Loyalty program access
  • Accessing store website
  • Customer order tracking
  • Inventory audit
  • Guided selling
  • Special orders
  • Task management
  • Taking photos
  • Endless aisle
  • Planograms
  • Punch in/Punch out
  • Near-field communications
  • Arrange shipping of purchase
  • Reserve purchase at other store for pick up

Meanwhile on the consumer side of things tablets are being used to find a store location, for price checking, for product research and reviews, and to make a purchase. Additional less frequent uses include: to download and claim a mobile coupon, writing a product review, using social media for reviews and for creating shopping lists.