Why is management holding up digital transformation (DX)?

One of this year’s retail buzzwords has to be digital transformation (DX). But for all the talk, how successfully are retailers approaching their DX strategy – particularly when it comes to incorporating mobile technology into the store environment?

Nudge Rewards has launched new research, benchmarking retailers’ digital transformation capabilities. Retail Connections spoke exclusively with the company’s Managing Director EMEA, Gary Topiol, to uncover their findings.

DX is on the tip of every retailer’s tongue it seems, but how are they faring when it comes to actually incorporating digital capabilities in-store?

First off, we’ve found that, despite all the hype around mobile technology and bridging the in-store / online divide – key themes when considering DX – retailers still appear to only ‘talk the talk’ when it comes to mobile device usage in-store.

Our research showed that some retail managers remain reluctant to move with the times, with less than a quarter (23%) of employees claiming that mobile use is actively encouraged in their workplace; a positioning that could potentially become catastrophic for retailers looking to keep up with the new age of hyper-connected consumers.

What is the main challenge when it comes to staff utilising mobile devices?

The main issue we’ve found is a fundamental lack of trust. 40% of retail staff said that trust around mobile device use at work is an issue, compared to just 28% of non-retail staff.

Although retailers may be concerned as to what mobiles are being used for during work hours, it is important to weigh this against the fact that many staff claim that mobile devices help them to do their job more productively. Perhaps staff motivation here needs to be considered, rather than potential distraction.

What can retailers do to address this trust issue?

Firstly, I think it is crucial that they recognise the enormity of the problem here. In a digital age, it is fundamental that technology is used in-store to provide customers with the connected experiences that they both want and expect.

We found that nearly half (44%) of retail employees who serve customers find mobiles helpful, while 48% said that the device helps them to do their job.

Having clear structure and understanding in place around what is permitted, and what is not, will alleviate any mistrust between shop-floor sales staff and managerial levels. Currently, 41% of front-line staff worry that either their employer or customers will assume they are using their device for personal purposes – even when they are using it for work-related activities. This is prompting them to use their mobile discreetly for fear they are being judged by management.

How will greater trust impact retailers’ technology strategies?

We expect the trend for store associates using mobile devices at work to rapidly grow. To provide customers with the experiences that consumers now consider best practice, staff need the tools and knowledge to deliver on their expectations.

As our research shows, many retailers are still lagging on the mobile innovation curve. Hopefully, with the results of the survey, retailers can look to address mistrust in the workplace, clearing the path for staff to concentrate on using mobile technology to serve customers to the best of their ability, resulting in more sales.


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