Long wait times. Out of stock challenges. Pricing inaccuracies. Dissatisfied customers. Operating in the physical world of retail can be tough. And more often than not, the retail associate takes the heat for painful situations like these given that they are on the front lines. Day after day the associate wakes up, pours a big cup of coffee, skims over social media and heads into work with a hint of frustration hiding behind their smile. They know that today bears the possibility of bringing more heart burn and chaos than the days prior. This is retail.

The days of serving understanding customers with low expectations are few and far between. Today, we operate in a digital world where technology is at the fingertips of most and complete strangers have the power to influence the consumer’s purchase decision with a single post, share or like. Consumers have a growing number of ways to build relationships with brands, and yet at the same time, a single shopping experience or interaction with an associate can make or break their trust.

Who is to blame when things take a turn for the worst within the four walls of a retail store? Where does one look for answers when same store sales decline quarter to quarter? It often feels like all fingers point to the associate. Corporate teams and consulting partners launch new studies around engagement, intent to stay and associate loyalty. But are we just looking to the associate as a scapegoat, or do intentions exist to incorporate their genuine feedback into new processes and technology decisions?

This redefined world of retail is electrifying as it happens all around us in ways that few can accurately predict where it will pivot to next. Some retailers have strategically made the decision to transform their business over time while others are holding on for survival only to see their looming fate. Increasingly, retail leaders are making the decision to categorize their associates as a pain point on their P&L, while others recognize them as their competitive advantage and secret sauce. When a retailer empowers their associates with the right mobile technology to be more knowledgeable of product information, quickly find accurate inventory and become the customer’s trusted advisor – retail magic can happen.

So, ask yourself. What category do your associates fall in – are they your money makers or do you only point to them when you have a bad quarter? I have found that a critical part of being successful in either category is making the right mobile technology a part of the associate’s day in a meaningful way. At Cisco, we are aligning non-traditional retail partners to our technologies so that our customers can unlock the power of the network. If mobile technologies and the backbone that those technologies live on are not providing the associate stability, security, and value then a key piece to your digital transformation puzzle is missing. Quickly determining where else you can place your bets to put associates in a position to be more digitally informed than today’s consumer and to be a source of truth for your in-store shoppers will accelerate your journey to success while empowering the front lines.

Join our upcoming webinar “Transforming the In-Store Experience with Mobile Technology” on September 13th at 2pm ET / 11am PT. Experts from Cisco, RSR (Retail Systems Research) and Tulip Retail will share how retailers can leverage mobile solutions to improve service, drive sales, build customer relationships and revolutionize the way that shopping is done.

In this webinar, you’ll learn:

  • How to improve worker productivity in the stores using mobile technology
  • ROI benefits from using in-store mobile apps
  • Case studies from some of the top brands in retail
  • And more!


Derek Dykens

Consumer Industries Business Development Manager

Global Enterprise - New York, NY