This is a guest post from David Vitak, Global Business Solutions at Avanade

Consumers today are challenging retailers to deliver more value than ever before. And the retailers that successfully respond to this challenge will benefit in terms of greater customer loyalty and in turn, greater revenue and profit growth. Today’s global economic conditions have shifted consumer spending and have driven an increase in value consciousness where consumers look for the best value in every purchase. But value is no longer based solely on price. Value is clearly a combination of price and service – before, during, and after the sale. The May, 2013 Forrester Research, Inc. report “Banks And Retailers: You Cannot Price Your Way Out Of Bad Customer Experiencesshows how customer experience trumps price-value perception as a loyalty driver for banks and retailers. Increasingly, how retailers engage with and serve their customers through mobile technology and innovative solutions will become key in delivering the value consumers demand.

And this challenge is not limited to traditional hard and soft-line retailers. This is a challenge presented to retailers of all types. Various industries including telecommunications, banks, and transportation are becoming some of best retailers and taking to the heart the message of improving how they engage with customers to deliver greater value. Just look at what Delta Airlines is doing with embracing a retail mobile point of sale solution to deliver a retail-like exceptional customer experience within their planes. 

There are many ways retailers can address the consumer challenge on value. One way is redesigning the in-store shopping experience – even if the store is a plane. This is not limited to redesigning the physical layout of the store. It also involves redesigning how store associates (or flight attendants as in the Delta case) work to better serve the customer during every single interaction in the store. This is becoming critical as retailers and consumers alike agree that the in-store shopping experience is the key part of a retailers overall brand experience. Equipping retail store associates with the tools to improve how they engage with customers in the store  -- before, during and after the purchase, can go a long way to delivering customers the value-creating experience today’s consumer demand.

Redesigning how store associates work means empowering them with the information to best service customers during any interaction. At Microsoft’s recent mobile technology event in New York City, Avanade showed some next-generation in-store retail technology in the form of our Avanade Assisted Selling application for retail, a mobile technology solution for Windows 8, that gives retail sales associates easy access to information they need to improve how they engage with customers. Using the application on a mobile device, sales associates have seamless access to customer and product information to expertly respond to customer questions and needs, find the right product for the customer and complete the sale from anywhere in the store. At the same time, it gives sales associates access to sales dashboards, calendars, task management, training, news and more, all from a single application, to help the improve their performance. 

Next-generation mobile retail technology like the Avanade Assisted Selling solution or the Connected Stores solution are two of many technologies that will enhance customer experience across the board. These are technologies that retailers of all types can embrace to improve customer engagement in the store, taking a significant step forward in turning the store into the center of the retailers brand experience and most importantly, create the value today’s consumers want.