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How Handheld Technology Reduces Friction For Shoppers

Sales increase when retail workers are equipped to help customers, experts say

This is an important year for the retail industry. After a series of setbacks to the retail business model — a global pandemic that kept people home, followed by high inflation and shocks to the global supply chain and labor market — the industry has high hopes for 2024.

That means that many are focused on finding ways to reduce any friction in the shopping experience. One common friction point is when store associates struggle to help customers find what they’re looking for: “If your store associate is experiencing friction, your customer is going to feel it,” says Andy Szanger, CDW’s director of strategic industries.

BizTech caught up with Szanger and other veterans of the retail tech space at NRF, the industry’s annual trade show, in January, to discuss friction-reduction ideas.

Strong Wi-Fi and Accurate Databases Simplify Customer Service

Equipping retail workers with the right tech, especially high-quality handheld devices connected via reliable Wi-Fi to inventory databases that are accurate in real time, is the best way to eliminate that friction point, says Matthew Guiste, a global retail technology strategist with Zebra Technologies.

“Frontline workers overwhelmingly say that they feel more valued, they feel like they will stay longer and can do a better job helping their customers,” he says. “Retail decision-makers also think that.”

Meanwhile, retail workers want to use technology that they’re familiar with — especially phones and tablets with straightforward interfaces, says Nick D’Alessio, senior business development manager with Brother Mobile Solutions. “Employers need that as well because they need people to learn quickly as things keep evolving,” he says.


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