Over half of US retailers believe that their customers have better access to technology then their sales staff and are losing sales as a result, according to new research.
A report from Motorola Solutions found that 55 per cent of retail employees thought that the holiday season shoppers were better connected to consumer information than in-store employees.
Online shopping tools and mobile phone applications are allowing consumers to compare prices, access coupons and use social networking to find a better deal, and the report argues that retailers need to equip and train their workers with the same tools to avoid losing trade.
Frank Riso, Senior Director of Retail Solutions at Motorola Solutions, said: “Retailers have put their associates at a significant disadvantage to connected consumers with the majority citing that shoppers are better connected than their in-store associates.
“With 87 per cent of surveyed retail associates noting that shoppers can easily find a better deal, offering the best customer experience is more important than ever.
“Retailers need to arm their mobile associates with access to real-time information to level the shopping playing field.”
The report also found that 39 per cent of store walk-outs are due to customers making checks on their smartphones regarding prices and availability.
Mike Hughes, Analyst at Datamonitor, told Retail Gazette: “Consumers will look to use these mobile phone features with greater intensity in the near future, even checking prices when in-store to see if a better deal can be obtained elsewhere.
“Moreover, it appears that major US retailers recognise the influence that mobile phones are having on shopping habits and are responding accordingly.”
Examples Hughes mentions include Target which has allows consumers to check prices and access vouchers, while Mall of America has trialled a product which customers can find real-time information about deals and promotions by texting an in-store number.
American consumers may be ahead of their UK cotemporaries in regards to using mobile technology in this way, but domestic retailers will be sure to keep an eye on developments across the Atlantic.
Hughes added: “Given that consumers continue to juggle and struggle with their finances and look around for the best possible deal, devices of this nature will be of particular importance in the foreseeable future, especially for encouraging non-essential impulse buys.”