M-Commerce - Mobile Phones are Driving New Retail Design
Perhaps nothing is impacting the retail environment more than mobile phones. Mobile devices are changing the way we design shopping centers and retail tenant spaces. Retailers are embracing the 330 million mobile phones in the U.S. and using them as tools to offer a more enjoyable shopping experience with elevated customer service.
Think about the shopping experience in Apple stores. Products are on display throughout the store and the larger inventory is stored in a small room in the back of the store. Every store employee has a mobile phone that serves as a point of sale (POS) to personalize the shopping experience. Other retailers, like Nordstrom’s, are also testing similar systems in their stores to offer a higher level of customer service. They have proved POS systems are no longer needed at each exit or near the back of the store. Today, a customer can simply buy an item - anywhere in the store – without standing in line waiting for other customers to complete their purchases.
How does this change our design? The bulky checkout counters are eliminated and replaced with more products, which leads to greater revenue opportunities for retailers. Full inventory is no longer needed in the heart of the store. POS systems alert an employee in the back room to deliver the purchase item directly to the customer anywhere in the store. This all happens via a GPS function on the mobile device. With the inventory no longer needed on the sales floor, the customer is not inundated with piles of merchandise covering valuable sales area. The sales floor can now be re-designed to offer more circulation and areas to experience the products, again giving the customer a more personal shopping experience.
The real financial benefit for retailers and owners is that stores can conceivably be 20 percent smaller, yet offer more of a selection. This is possible by organizing inventory in a smaller storage area in the back of the store. Smaller stores allow developers to fit more tenants into malls and shopping centers, creating shopping diversity and encouraging a wider range of individuals to visit their venue.