Revenue and traffic has shifted year to year from in-store to online purchases for the last several years. What does this mean for your physical store and operational strategies? Let’s take a deep dive into some of the challenges and solutions presented by the rise of online shopping for mobile devices.

Why offer a retail store in the first place?

If so many shoppers are migrating to online sales, does it even make sense for a wireless device seller to open a traditional retail store? It does, and here are the three main arguments for offering customers a traditional retail experience when it comes to buying mobile devices.

  • Online shopping experiences cannot replicate the opportunity to touch a product and try it out, and this is especially true for mobile electronics. Customers want to see a product in action, and in the case of the popular new smartphones and tablets that come in larger sizes, they want to see if it fits in their pocket, bag or purse. Shoppers interested in larger screens also need to physically access a device to see if it can replace some of the functions of another device, such as a tablet or e-reader.
  • An in-person retail experience offers the satisfaction of carrying a product home right then and there.
  • The biggest reason that customers want to access a traditional retail location is to engage experts among your sales staff. Customers have questions and lots of choices in devices, operating systems, apps and accessories. Having an expert outfit their mobile device immediately can make a big difference in customers’ buying decisions.

Dealing with Online Shopping

As a mobile retail operator, you can either compete with the online shopping world or give up and embrace the change. Your store should reward customers at both ends of the shopping spectrum. Here are some tips for engaging different types of shoppers.

  • Have live handsets and devices in the store that are accessible by customers. Security may necessitate a lack of exposure to the products but if at all possible, give customers the ability to pick up a phone or tablet and access applications your brand’s website may not provide.
  • Keep the store well-stocked. A customer wants to take a product home today, in the color and configuration that they want most. Using video surveillance, analytics and a solid inventory control system can help you stay on top of your inventory and re-order product at the right time.
  • Be sure your team is well-trained. If the main reason a customer comes into a traditional retail outlet is to ask questions, your sales team must know the features and benefits of the devices and how to close and handle objections. Have your team members practice translating the features into benefits for different types of customers.
  • Respond immediately. One of the things that customers find most frustrating about Apple’s customer response procedures is standing around waiting for a salesperson to be dispatched while simultaneously there are five or six unoccupied staff standing around chatting with each other. A customer doesn’t care that employees have different roles. They just want to ask their questions, buy their purchases, and get out.
  • Know the prices online. The first time your team hears about an online special shouldn’t be from a customer. You can’t compete with online sales if you don’t monitor them.
  • Millennials particularly will use your store as a showroom and still order online, sometimes while they are still in the store. Don’t look down on them for this. You still may have an opportunity to sell them accessories or additional products that are not available online.