Are mobile devices creating connected store associates yet? – RetailWire


Jul 28, 2022

In mid-June, The Home Depot handed out more than 125,000 “hdPhones,” or newfangled mobile devices, to store associates to help assist and speed customers’ journeys.

The advanced capabilities include:

  • Communication anywhere throughout the entire store and into the parking lots.  
  • Advanced-range barcode scanning to enable associates to locate products, check pricing and inventory availability in hand or from more than 40 feet away, which is particularly helpful in locating products in overhead storage.
  • Docking the device enables associates to view and demo products and specifications on larger desktop-sized screens, helping customers find products to complete their projects.

Additional capabilities include multi-device integration, more efficient app speeds, in-store texting and direct walkie-talkie communication.

“The enhanced digital in-store environment allows our customers to quickly get what they need to complete their projects with the help of a more connected associate,” said Fahim Siddiqui, EVP and CIO of Home Depot, in a statement.

RSR Research’s new study, “Has The Era Of The Empowered Workforce Finally Arrived?”, sponsored by WorkForce Software, finds mobile to be “the underlying theme for technology enablers when it comes to the store workforce.”

Among the retail “winners” surveyed — those with better than average performance — 67 percent said mobile phones provide “high value” when used by associates for customer engagement.

“Consumer-grade mobile technologies and apps are no longer nice-to-haves,” the report states. “Consumers have them in their pockets and purses; those that serve consumers must have the same capabilities.”

In other areas, 48 percent of winners gave mobile devices a “high value” rating for how they free up store managers’ time. Mobile devices were also rated highly around communication, including peer-peer messaging/collaboration, employee “micro” training content and “in context” communications (messaging embedded into workflows).

The largest retailers, however, were found to be driving mobile device adoption (70 percent compared to 41 percent overall).

A major barrier appears to be cost, including upkeep.

In an interview with WWD, Douglas Baldasare, CEO of ChargeItSpot, which helps maintain handheld devices, said that on average, 30 percent of mobile devices assigned to distribution or store staff are missing, broken, have dead batteries or are not properly charged for use. He said, “It’s all due to inefficient management processes.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are mobile devices assigned to store associates elevating the customer experience or falling short of promises? How confident are you that mobile devices will eventually provide significant value to store associates?

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“Are mobile devices assigned to store associates elevating the customer experience or falling short of promises?”

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