Shedding Light on Mobile Shopping – Part 3

By : Donna Stevens

September 18, 2018 12:00 PM

This is the third post in a blog series exploring some of the things retailers should consider when it comes to Mobile Shopping. If you missed the other posts in this series, be sure to read about the strategies behind mobile shopping and technologies that can help deliver mobile shopping.


As mentioned in our first post in this series, there are three key pillars to evaluate when incorporating mobile shopping with in-aisle self-scanning technologies into your enterprise:

  • Strategy
  • Technology
  • Operations


Once you have planned your short-, mid- and longer-term strategies for in-aisle mobile shopping, you can turn your attention to identifying the solution technologies and, where applicable, the solution partners to help you realize your vision. In parallel to implementing the solution, many aspects of store operations must be considered in moving from pilot to full-scale implementation.


The following checklist of questions and suggestions help support success from an operational perspective:


  • Launching the app: Will you use the customer smartphone, a store-provided handheld scanner (such as the Zebra MC18), or both? Do you have the ability to use GPS to auto-launch the application when the shopper enters the store? Making it as easy as possible to launch and navigate the mobile shopping app will reduce frustration and encourage higher adoption. With handheld scanners, scanning a loyalty card (if the consumer has one) can release the device while supporting personalized promotions but enabling anonymous release without loyalty also gives you the chance to provide additional incentives to join the loyalty program after the consumer has a positive self scanning experience.
  • Linkage to loyalty: Speaking of loyalty, if you have a loyalty program and incorporate the customer card or ID in the mobile shopping experience, your shoppers unique item preferences and pricing will be available as they scan throughout the store. No loyalty program? No problem. Mobile shopping apps can be used without them.
  • Adoption: How do you educate the shoppers in how to use the technology? How do you direct the right basket size and consumer type to mobile shopping versus other methods of itemization and checkout? Retailers need to shorten that learning curve to operationalize. This is often done by a store associate/greeter who shows first time users how to use the app, or at the end of the trip, where to finalize. Communicating to consumers the extra benefits and even providing special incentives for first-time use is instrumental because the tendency is for consumers to stick with the shopping methodologies and habits they know. Disrupting their normal behavior can only be accomplished if they are both aware and motivated to use the new solution.
  • Security: How do you reduce shrinkage and protect your store from intentional theft in-aisle (e.g. scanning a different, cheaper barcode, or nesting items)? At the same time, you want your customers to feel trusted. What’s the difference between partial audit and full audit – and how do you enable associates to monitor without impeding the shopper’s convenience and undermining the benefits of self-service? How do you keep the honest person honest and encourage them to follow the right processes to avoid failing a partial audit? What if a shopper fails the audit – what is the right associate behavior to implement without alienating the customer? As a retailer, how do you know which items are mis-scanned, or stolen, and how do you control that?
  • Bagging: If your customers forget to bring their own bags, will you provide an easy way for the shopper to pick up a bag along the way or at finalization? Will you charge for extra bags?
  • Payment: How do I direct customers to pay for their mobile shopping? What payment types can you accept? What about exception items, card or account issues, split tenders and other payment nuances that can’t be handled on a mobile device? It’s important to think about how consumers will finalize their shopping journey and provide them with a fast, convenient, payment flow and zone to ensure any exceptions are handled gracefully and with respect to the consumer’s privacy and comfort.
  • Store Associate training: What type of associate is best to assign as an attendant for mobile shopping and what will their tasks be? How do you motivate associates to encourage adoption of mobile shopping? How do you need to train associates to help in shopper greeting/introduction of the new format? What should associates say (and not say) when it comes to the audit for loss prevention? Associates require appropriate training on both the technology and the processes to ensure a good customer experience. 


In summary, in-aisle mobile shopping is a tremendous new way for consumers to easily and conveniently shop but it’s critical for retailers to think beyond the solution and technology and recognize that self-service in any form is a change to their store operations and to the job activities of their associates. Successful return on investment of this type of technology comes with great consumer adoption – and consumer adoption relies on awareness, understanding and incentives. Read more about mobile shopping and other solutions for creating superior in-store shopping and checkout experiences by downloading our free eBook


Donna Stevens headshot

Donna Stevens

Solution Director, Retail Store Transformation

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Donna Stevens has been with NCR over 16 years and today runs the NCR Retail Store Transformation solutions management team, including self-checkout and mobile shopping solutions. In this capacity, she helps leverage NCR’s global leadership position and expertise in delivering transformative innovation to retailers around the world. Donna is a graduate of Carnegie-Mellon University and brings 29 years of global experience in the technology field.