iPad fever abounds in the world of retail right now. And it’s easy to see why, with the world cooing over the introduction of Apple’s newest baby. Best Buy has just announced that they are considering iPads (other devices are available) for their staff to use as sales tools. We’ve got one client about to roll out something similar. Today, a new client has called to ask for advice on using iPads for CRM activities and for business in general.
When is it the right thing to do and when is it pure gimmickry? Will it just give them an image makeover in the eyes of their customers or will it actually contribute to the bottom line?
Well, we all know how they’re used in the Apple Store where the customer-focused staff are responsive and well-informed, due in part to the shiny tablet they tote. Bottom line, it’s great for appointment-driven service businesses such as hairdressers, restaurants etc but how about general retail?
Well, there’s no doubt that it can help if it means that staff on the shop floor can access stock information without disappearing into the dungeons below the shop for 15 minutes as you ask: “Do you have these in brown in a 42?” There’s also an advantage in being able to access the online store from anywhere on the shop floor, even processing orders and sales. There is no doubt that a mobile device with a decent screen (OK, I’m only talking about an iPad) can help to explain the pros and cons of complex products and facilitate comparisons. It can’t turn your staff into product experts, but if they are experts already, it can turbo-charge your service and conversion rates.
One thing is for sure; we are at the start of the curve for iPad retail applications, with iTunes not even having a separate retail category. I suspect that will change over the coming months as retailers wake up to the potential.
If there are any developers who have something unique for retail on this exciting new platform, I’d love to hear from them.