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Imagine, just for fun, that you work in the head office of an outdoors outfitter company. A new line of daypacks is set to ship to your 153 stores spread out across the U.S. and Canada. Many store employees are recent hires and hardly know each other, and few are familiar with this product line. Also, you’ve got a mix of generations on the floor: the sage older adventurers alongside the younger gear enthusiasts. But there’s a lot riding on each store’s frontline team to get these packs sold.

This isn’t reality television, it’s the reality of the retail industry. Business cycles are tighter than ever, products roll out faster than ever before, and social media means products can go viral in a heartbeat. To compete, brick and mortar retail has to offer the access and information of online, but with the added benefit of personable, friendly customer service. It’s not a given that people walk in your doors. They need to feel welcome.

Your challenge in this scenario: get all of your frontline employees up to speed on the new packs, enable them to answer any question, give great customer service—and be motivated to sell. The solution is in your hand: the smartphone. For retail today, mobile is the best way to empower and motivate your frontline. Here are five reasons why:


1. Broad reach

People live and work on their smartphones — and not just the younger generations. Pew research discovered that not only do 92% of American adults age 18–29 own a smartphone, but 74% of adults age 50–64 do too.

2. Clear message

The mobile platform is designed for simple, effective, consistent messaging. With the message right in the palm of their hand, no one on your frontline team has to improvise or worse, get it wrong. And everyone is on board.

3. Flexible communication 

Mobile means you can reach people all at once, in teams, in groups, individually. You can check in discretely with a new hire to make sure they’re on board, make sure the team is ready, or make announcements to the whole sales crew. No one feels out of the loop: everyone is invited to be a part of the effort.

4. Instant support

Instant support and mobile tools work both ways. When a customer asks your employee how long it would take to ship to her daughter in Dubai, the answer needs to be fast, not a shrug or an “I’ll get back to you.” When frontline employees know all they have to do is text to get an informed answer, they can project confidence, and ease, when dealing with customers.

5. Powerful incentives

A study discussed in the Harvard Business review found that even the smallest rewards motivate people to go the extra mile. In retail, going that extra mile is critical. You can craft all the strategy you want, but without employee execution, you won’t reach your goals. From pulses to shout-outs to gamification, mobile gives you creative and effective ways to catalyze employee performance where and when it counts the most.

No matter how amazing a product may be, your success rests on your frontline employees — and the bottom line is that you need their hearts as well as their minds. Mobile gives you the tools to convey knowledge, spark enthusiasm, and deepen engagement and motivation, and use innovative, meaningful ways to spur performance that fit into the way we communicate, live, and work. What’s especially compelling here is that digital technology is what’s giving brick and mortar its power back — by celebrating its most important asset, people.