The New Retail Execution via the Mobile Revolution

Feb 22, 2013 in QSR, Retail

Viva la (mobile) revolucion! You might as well, because it’s happening with or without you. It’s alive and well and was just blogged about, tweeted then re-tweeted, and recently gained millions of followers on Facebook and in the real world.

Yes, we all have that one friend who refuses to let go of their “flip” phone because it’s “perfect and simple”, but they were also the last to realize that landlines are just not all that useful anymore. Yet if you look around, the world is already mobile! It is not happening… it happened.  And your enterprise workforce is now armed with computers in their pocket, waiting to transfer their incredibly valuable insights to you.

So how do we take this new reality and make it practical? How do we turn up the volume and essentially make our employees more efficient and productive?

Customer engagement and satisfaction are consistently mentioned as a top priority for growing retail brands. The ability to engage with “the customer” on their mobile device or through social media has provided a new level of customer insight and feedback. However, it is just as important if not more important to gain the same feedback from employees.

It’s been said that the best investment a company can make is in its employees, and that any brand’s best customer/ambassador is their best employee. It’s no secret that happy employees are productive ones, and so happy & loyal employees naturally help to strengthen and grow any business. As we’ve discussed in previous blogs about BYOD, MDM and COPE, these philosophies now stretch into the mobile world.

In Forbes’ recent article titled “Why Retailers Need to Focus on Mastering Customer Data“, author Ravi Shankar expounds upon the new avenues for consumer insights and the way to optimize engagement, but the first of his last two points is essential in strengthening internal communication through Mobile Device Management (MDM).

  • Operate more efficiently and economically: MDM lowers the costs of handling and managing data across applications by centralizing an organization’s data governance efforts and technical capabilities, such as data quality and identifying relationships between data to reduce duplication…Meanwhile, complete and authoritative master data is available to sales, marketing and service organizations in days instead of months to more quickly power customer-facing initiatives and free up personnel for other tasks.

Shankar is touching upon the speed and accessibility of data that can help brands make decisions smarter and faster. This lies within the internal network through the power of employee engagement. Mobile technology now allows for the same speed for internal communication and feedback, empowering employees to promote, execute, and perform at a much higher level.

While there are many arguments for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), Corporate Owned Personally Enabled (COPE) and the aforementioned MDM, more recently Forbes ran another piece to make a strong case for MDM as a solution for corporate fears about security risks. In the same piece, the author interestingly points out that, “most analysts agree that well over half the smartphones in the workforce are in fact personally owned vs. company owned.   Users within minutes of purchasing their device are already hooking their devices into their corporate email, and are beginning to expect (and complain if they are not getting what they want) that corporate IT deliver mobile business apps that are just as easy to use as what the apps they get from the Apple iTunes store or Google Play.” The consumer IS the employee!

The article acknowledges that the mobile “revolution” does not exist in a separate world outside of corporate or company life. This is why retailers need to take action in accessing their employees for invaluable feedback, teamwork and loyalty to create a new a profound level of productivity. This is summarized well in Shankar’s last point as well. While he is making the case for MDM alone, the very idea can be applied to any philosophy that enables and empowers employees through the use of mobile technology:

  • Master the data and master the market: MDM is essential to bridging the information silos that characterize multi-channel retail operations – and to overcoming fragmented and inconsistent data to create a complete and single version of the truth about each customer. Retailers are then better equipped to market more intelligently, sell more effectively, operate more efficiently and create closer and more profitable customer relationships. The retail world continues to become more and more complex. There will always be new channels and new data to master. Retailers embracing MDM now will have a long-lasting market advantage, regardless of coming trends. 

The question is: How do you plan to put mobile to work for you? How will you make it essential to your culture and success? Visit for at least one good idea! (shameless plug)