As retailers start to adopt tablet computers--like Apple's new iPad--they are going to quickly find out that they can improve the retail customer experience at the same time they lower their operating costs, improve their brands, and capture better and more actionable research data. All at the same time.
How can you have more service at lower cost? It's a question that's plagued retailers for years. Traditional thinking tells you that every extra staff hour, every new display, every piece of technology eats away at the bottom line. What many retailers are forgetting is that by redesigning how they do retail they can eliminate many of the unnecessary costs--quickly and forever.
For example, how could retail be better if a department store provided iPads with in-store apps to their sales associates? First, they would be ready to answer practically any question--from what's the difference between those two washing machines to what kind of fasteners do you need to install them. RSAs wouldn't be stuck in one department. They could go with their customers to find just the right blouse to matcd that new skirt. And don't forget the shoes!
As the sales associate uses the tablet computer to help the customer, their profile is quietly building in the background. With each touch or slide of the finger, the store gets a better sense of who this customer is, what they need today and what they might need in the future.
Imagine how retail might be different and better if your store put these apps in the hands of customers and let them shop virtually while still in the store.
The iPad and other tablet computers in development right now are giving us new opportunities to manage 1:1 relationships. The forward thinking retailers who seize the day will win more customers, more sales, more loyalty, and more brand equity in the long-run.
Mike Wittenstein, founder of Storyminers, is a practicing customer experience consultant and speaker with over two decades of experience. His work has taken him to more than 25 countries and he has helped over 400 companies with his expertise in using customer experience design as a strategy for increasing sales and profit.