Retail Store Chains in India are Using Tablets to Improve Customer Experience

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Two-thirds of surveyed sales persons believe that if they are equipped with tablets, they could provide better customer service and improve the shopping experience

Major retail stores in India, especially those in the consumer appliance or electronics arena, are effectively arming sales executives with tablets to help them interact with customers and clinch sales.

Why specifically in the appliance and electronics space? Because unlike grocery and clothing supermarkets, appliance stores need to convince potential buyers that they can set up and operate gadgets or appliances on their own. When a customer asks: “How will I set this up?” or ” How will this work in my home?”, a quick video on a tablet can convince him or her that it is not Rocket Science! Or if the customer is hesitant to decide between models, the salesperson can whip out a tablet and show a comparative table to help make a decision.

Turning hoppers into buyers

Large retail stores in India are already exploiting portable computing platforms, the tablet is the most popular, to help turn walk-in hoppers into buyers. But don’t take our word for it:

Retail stores increasingly bank on tablets to improve customer experience and sales, finds a study by Zebra Technologies , a leading international company offering rugged computing platforms, warehousing solutions and point-of-sale equipment. Its 11th annual Global Shopper Study, recently released in India, analyzes attitudes, opinions, and expectations of shoppers, retail associates and retail decision makers.

The results show that two-thirds (66 percent) of surveyed sales persons believe that if they are equipped with tablets, they could provide better customer service and improve the shopping experience.

Challenges faced by retail stores

Fifty-five percent of surveyed retail store associates agree that their company is understaffed, and nearly one-half (49 per cent) feel overworked. Store associates cite frustration with their inability to assist customers as 42 per cent find they have little time to help shoppers because of pressure to get other tasks completed. Another 28 percent claim that it’s difficult to get information to help shoppers. In these conditions most surveyed retail decision makers (83 per cent) and store associates (74 per cent) concur that shoppers can have a better experience with technology-equipped sales associates. Specifically in Asia, 62 per cent of retail staff view their employer more positively if provided with a mobile device for work-related activities.

Nearly 60 percent of retail outlets plan to increase their spend on handheld mobile computers by more than six percent, and more than one-in-five retailers (21 percent) plan to spend greater than 10 percent on rugged tablets over the next three years.

Indian presence

While the survey was conducted world-wide, its findings are being mirrored in India where Zebra already works with top 8 of the 10 retailers, top 6 of the 10 manufacturers, and top 3 of the 5 e-commerce players. They have a dedicated R&D centre in Bangalore, which is their 2nd largest in the world, after US. Engineers here ensure that Zebra solutions are localized for Indian conditions and sales practices.

The mantra for retail is “Give customers what they want, when, where, and how they want it”, and tech solutions like tablets are helping to make this happen.

This story is written by Anand Parthasarathy. His rich experience, reporting ACE (Appliances and Consumer Electronics) stories encompasses working 15 years with The Hindu as its IT Consulting Editor. He is a qualified instrumentation systems engineer who has worked for 20 years as a scientist on numerous defence R&D projects, and as a project manager for surface-to-air missiles at DRDO.

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