Posted by Branden Jenkins, General Manager of Global Retail, NetSuite

In order to compete, retailers know they must deepen customer engagement with their brand. They could rely on the latest and greatest technologies to help them do so, but it doesn’t address the most critical part of the buying journey, which is when a consumer seeks out the help of a sales associate. When that consumer walks into a store will she get the kind of human experience that will persuade her to make a purchase and become loyal to that brand?

They will if they are met with a technology-enabled, engaged associate who is confidently armed with relevant data and information. By following the steps below, retailers can be sure their sales associates will be able to create the powerful brand connections necessary to stand apart from competitors.

1. Give associates better visibility into inventory

To drive better customer interactions, store associates not only need to be equipped with mobile devices, but they need access to better information from those devices. Once a harmonized back-end system based around item, inventory, order and customer data is in place, retailers have a huge opportunity to transform the POS into a point-of-engagement system. POS systems built on a retail management solution lend insight across all customer channels, as well as real-time visibility into the customer’s activity and product information across those channels. Armed with mobile POS devices, your sales associates can determine product availability, from anywhere in the store, as well as estimated delivery dates if the product has to be shipped.

Also, those devices can push information to sales associates – such as KPIs and alerts – to keep them ahead of sales trends and allow them to offer alternative products.

2. Offer more personalized service in the store

With a mobile POS in hand, the associate can scan products, look at it digitally and share the screen with the customer to complete the sale. That kind of quick, personalized service and value is likely to overshadow the impulse of customers browsing in-store and leaving to later buy online at a lower price from a competitor.

3. Prep the next step in the buying journey

Ideally, the sales associate also has access to a customer’s ecommerce shopping cart and wish lists, and can add those items to in-store purchases. Staff can also add items to an ecommerce wish list that a customer considered but didn’t buy. With this information, the sales associate can start building rich customer profiles in real time that can be used during subsequent in-store visits.

4. Get the back of the house in order

All of this success hinges on having the right information to push to these devices. For too many retailers, the reality of legacy products bolted together creates disparate data, systems that can’t talk to one another, and manual processes that will impact everyone from headquarters to storefronts. Break free of letting systems drive customer experiences. Work toward a single, standardized view of the customer, inventory and order information that supports a seamless customer experience – one that ends with a sale by your technology-enabled associate.