The best brands invest in both people and technology. So, if you’re feeling pressured by what you perceive to be an either/or situation, let yourself off the hook.
When it comes to emerging technology, businesses are reaping the rewards of focusing on a next generation business model that doesn’t come at the expense of quality talent. They actively combine both elements for explosive growth.
As you look to implement new technologies in your business, explore mobile, both in and out of the store setting. When you incorporate these devices – whether in the hands of your staff or your customer – you’re introducing technology that people already understand. That understanding builds a level of comfort and acceptance. Therefore, a layer of stress and friction is removed from the exchange.
After all, whether you know it or not, your customers are already using mobile devices in your store. A study from Retail Dive finds that the top uses of mobile devices in stores are researching product information and checking or comparing prices. So, if their phone is already in hand, you might as well take advantage of it.
Consider technology that allows a customer to pay on the floor instead of a traditional register, check real time inventory, ship if a product is out of stock or send tailored offers to customers using beacon technology (technology that uses a customer’s location in the store to deliver timely content to their mobile device). Companies might also look into ways to make their customers' experience easier with Apple Wallet or Android Pay, perhaps with a revised loyalty program or easy payment option.
A word of caution: as your business explores ways to integrate user-friendly technology, your first task may be platform integration. When you maintain separate databases, there is the possibility of creating more frustration for your customers. Inventories can be skewed and pricing may not match from one experience to the other. When you combine both online and in-store operations on the same platform, you’re more likely to provide a positive experience that builds brand loyalty.
However, this technology can’t exist in a vacuum. Companies must invest in high-quality, multi-faceted employees who can set the brand’s tone. Today’s employee will not only serve as the face of your business, they will assist customers and their interactions with technology.
It’s essential that your staff understand how your mobile initiatives work across multiple devices. It’s also essential that they have a high enough EQ (emotional intelligence) to help people without being condescending. They must strike a delicate balance on the sales floor. Note that EQ is something that can be trained. If current employees aren’t naturally strong in this area, they can learn.
As you find and invest in this talent, they will create the human experience customers want to build a relationship with.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and struggling to stay relevant and competitive . . . relax. Think equally about both sides of the business and invest in both people and technology. Then, let go. The right pairing of people and technology will allow your business to practically run itself.