Retailers always seem to be playing “catch-up” when it comes to dealing with the seismic changes that mobile technology continues to generate. Consumers are adapting far more easily than retailers to always-on, always-present devices disrupting the shopping journey. Siloed organizations, legacy technology and outdated thinking are holding many retail organizations back.
Stephan Schambach, founder and CEO of NewStore, believes retail needs more than just tweaks to deal with these changes. Retailers need a makeover — which also is the title of Schambach’s new book: Makeover: How Mobile Flipped The Shopping Cart (And What To Do About It!).
In this exclusive Q&A, Schambach discusses just how revolutionary mobile technology is for retail, as well as why front-line employees are far ahead of retail leadership teams in leveraging mobile to successfully engage with customers.
Retail TouchPoints (RTP): It seems retailers are just beginning to grapple with how different mobile is from other channels — that it’s not just online commerce on a smaller screen. What do you think is the biggest misunderstanding retailers have about mobile?
Stephan Schambach: With mobile, the consumer becomes the point of sale. You can see this at Starbucks — people are using mobile to order their latté ahead of time and pick it up when they get there. Mobile means that whether you interact with a brand or retailer inside the store or outside is fluid.
Mobile is location-aware, and its small screen means it requires different interaction and payment mechanisms. A retailer can’t require registrations with multiple form fields. These were difficult enough to deal with on a web browser, but they’re basically impossible on mobile.
RTP: Are the scope and speed of changes generated by mobile one of the reasons that you wrote this book?
Schambach: In discussing the changes happening in retail with a number of different brands, it became clear that many of them, particularly the leadership teams, were not organizationally ready to deal with them. I wanted to provide people with a “cookbook” about how they can change their systems, their organizations, compensation structures, etc. The ultimate goal is for a retailer that was used to simply distributing product to turn itself into a brand that creates loyalty.
RTP: Within the retail organization, who do you think needs the most help in coping with all these mobile-influenced changes?
Schambach: It’s primarily for the leadership team, but it’s…