Carphone Warehouse has rolled out 5,000 tablets across its entire workforce this year to create a digitally-enabled team.
The move is part of the retailer’s plan to move from digital being a channel within the business to being at the centre of its operations, said group CEO Andrew Harrison.
Speaking at The Delivery Conference yesterday, organised by MetaPack, Harrison said retail businesses such as Carphone Warehouse needed to get more science into their operations; like online-only players, which are data-driven.
“It’s a big, bold step for us to put this digital production line in our business,” he said.
It involved introducing Wi-Fi to all locations and changing management programmes, for instance; but these were essential steps to “totally embrace what technology is doing to all our businesses”, said Harrison.
Harrison suggested retailers had forgotten colleagues needed technology as much as their customers, which is heightened when a workforce is composed largely from Generation Y.
Harrison said staff carry their tablets with them all the time and they support them throughout their day in tasks such as checking stock room availability.
A feature called Magpie enables staff to ‘steal’ information from the internet including competitors’ prices, mobile phone coverage, speed of broadband etc.
Harrison said the tablets also enable staff to pull off product features, videos and reviews. “It enables the employee to have a much more interactive conversation with the customer,” he said.
At the same time, the customer journey and every sales process is mapped out.
Harrison told delegates the tablets were also fantastic tools for performance management.
“We have a clear view of what people are doing in our business,” he said. As well as generating data on employees – what they sell and what they don’t sell – they are used as a training tool. Training as well as promotional material is conveyed via the tablets. Harrison revealed the cost would be recouped in six months since suppliers loved the access the tablets provided.
Early results showed the devices have made significant changes in conversion rates and reduced the training time for new employees by 60%.
Carphone Warehouse has partnered with Accenture to speed the roll out, said Harrison. Now it plans to export the capability to mobile phone retailing outlets around the world, such as through its newly announced partnership with Samsung.
“We’ve spent time trying to make our customer journey easier,” said Harrison. “Smart technology in the hands of employees makes lives easier and transforms our business,” he said.