Mystery shoppers can help stores find the best retail technology solutions

Many companies are currently in the process of upgrading their retail technology to stay on top of current and emerging trends.

Many companies are currently in the process of upgrading their retail technology to stay on top of current and emerging trends. Last year marked the rise of a number of important developments that aren't expected to wane in the near future, including mobile device adoption and the rise of big data. For customers, these two factors contribute to greater convenience and more personalized service. For businesses, they mean more targeted efforts and the potential for higher revenue.

To achieve these aims, companies are investing in the tools they need to accommodate customers' use of mobile devices and harvest data. Some stores are implementing new payment processing terminals that play into patrons' love of smartphones and tablets. Employees are given systems outfitted with credit card readers that allow them to complete transactions from anywhere on the sales floor and pull up inventory lists, visit the brand's website for product descriptions or review and tap into customer loyalty records.

Supermarket chooses mobile payments system
A small supermarket chain in Wisconsin recently took this one step further by deploying a mobile payment system that allow shoppers to ring in items as they add them to their shopping carts, according to Retail Customer Experience. When people are finished selecting products, they can scan a barcode generated on their smartphones at checkout stations and complete transactions in one step.

"Launching mobile checkout takes Woodman's to the forefront of the 21st century and creates additional opportunities in the future for Woodman's to interact with their customers in real time during the shopping experience," Chris Lybeer, vice president and general manager of retail marketing and mobile solutions at NCR, told the source.

Customers express interest in retail technology innovations
Retail technology has been gaining consumers' attention, according to a study by WD Partners that found 93 percent of those surveyed are aware of new retail technology innovations and even interested in trying them. However, it also found that the number of individuals who had actually used them was disappointing.

"The likely reason is that retailers haven't yet implemented these technologies in-store - so their customers haven't had the opportunity to try them. But as our survey showed, demand is on the rise, so retailers need to catch up quickly," the report explained.

Mystery shoppers provide unbiased insight to guide investments
If businesses are holding off on investment plans for more information, they might want to consider bringing in mystery shoppers. These professional auditors can provide feedback in pilot programs to help companies determine which solutions will best meet the needs of their customers. Using the information supplied in these visits, brands can confidently deploy new technology that will boost satisfaction and secure a spot as an industry leader.

Secret shoppers who take these assignments might be asked to visit a location at a specific time and complete a series of tasks, such as purchasing a particular item using a new system.

For example, individuals may be required to buy a small item, such as a shirt or a pair of earrings, using a new mobile point-of-sale terminal. If sales associates are using tablets or smartphones, shoppers should note how long it takes employees to approach them as they are browsing and ready to buy, the amount of time that's spent completing the transaction, if workers have trouble using the systems and offer to email patrons receipts.

Because secret shoppers may need to visit the store more than once to compare those service metrics before and after new retail technology is introduced, these assignments can be even more lucrative for participants. Some clients offer cash payments for both visits, while others may provide reimbursements for purchases instead or in addition to that compensation.