I recently caught a short article in The Economist on how Nordstrom’s and Macy’s are using mobile in the shopping mix. It’s a good reminder and again points to a radical change coming in the way we see POS or point of sale terminals. Mobile solutions are replacing static registers while also making it easier to present the right product to the right person in a way that delights them (see iBeacon). In contrast to the Visa PayWave (see also this) I’ve written about , Nordstrom demonstrates how inventory, online and in-store can begin to empower their assistants to really begin to build a shopping relationship with me. From having a product/upc scanner in the pocket to knowing what other sizes are in stock, or taking my payment there and on the spot. Soon the customer will be able to do this all too and that will further improve the relationship. It may not be long before you sign-in to the store with Facebook and then it remembers.
In this change to moving service and payment to small personal devices, it is easy to miss other new benefits that may emerge. Customers are served where they shop. Registers aren’t left unattended. While customers don’t like to be stalked, assistants are now armed with a helpfulness device. Now that connection is the new learning on how to get what you want or pay the money. Rather than just wanting to ring your sale up, they can find inventory and answer other questions. Assistants also clear up, or hang up stuff rather than having a traditional register place that is a mess. Choreography changes. Along with stock management, just another way to avoid more markdowns.
Nordstrom’s newest stores have more mobile devices for accepting payment than fixed ones. With them, salespeople can tell, for example, if a customer is close to an upgrade, which would entitle her to such goodies as free alterations to clothing. She can then be encouraged to claim the benefit by buying a little more. Nordstrom’s grasp of inventory is good enough that shoppers can check online whether an item is available at a specific store.
One of Macy’s tricks is to use its shops as distribution centres. This expands choice online and prevents stock going unsold. An unwanted coat in Boston can be shipped to a shivering shopper in Boise. That sounds expensive but “if you can prevent a markdown, that covers a lot of shipping costs and satisfies the customer,” says Karen Hoguet, Macy’s finance chief.
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