Retail chains look to mobile technology to improve customer service, survey finds

Retail chains are turning to mobile technologies to help them deliver better customer service, a new survey by Vista Retail Support has revealed.

An overwhelming 91% of the large chain operators questioned by the retail IT support specialist felt onnected technologies such as tablets could help staff to improve the assistance they offer. Three quarters (75%) also agreed the greater adoption of in-store mobility could improve the high street shopping experience and enable a consistent, omni-channel experience.

Tablets in particular are proving to be a major hit: 42% of the retailers questioned have already rolled out the handheld technology in their stores, while a further 50% said they plan to adopt them within the next two years.

Many retailers also picked up on the potential to use web-enabled mobile technologies to improve marketing and brand perception, with 64% saying they can help deliver a more personalised customer experience and 65% believing they are an effective way to deliver marketing and promotional messages.

However, the research also reflected the fact price is still a barrier to greater adoption: well over half (58%) of the retailers polled felt that mobile technologies are still too expensive and only a quarter felt they were a cost-effective way to serve their customers. 42% also felt mobile technologies had some way to go to be robust enough for commercial use, with 33% saying they would be more likely to adopt more of them if they cost less – far more than the 8% who said they needed to be more reliable.

“To keep their retail outlets profitable, many of the largest retailers are doing all they can to make the in-store shopping experience as easy and enjoyable as possible for customers,” said Richard Cottrell, sales and marketing director, Vista Retail Support.

“While cost is still a barrier for some, the research clearly shows that mobile technologies do have a part to play in helping them maintain brand loyalty across online and offline channels. Crucially, they may also prove to be an important tool in enabling high street operators to withstand pressing commercial threats such as showrooming.”