In the race to rescue retail, big merchants are arming their associates with an array of apps

Apps keep store employees on track to compete with online retailers.

December 30, 2019

For some retail workers, numerous apps are necessary to serve customers who expect the convenience of online shopping when they step into a store.

Knowing how to fold a V-neck is only part of the job

At an Old Navy in NYC, floor-level sales associates are expected to bridge the gap between in-person and online shopping, the latter of which boasts instant gratification and endless inventory. These associates are issued handheld devices loaded with numerous apps, including:

  • In Stock On Shelf app, for locating easy-to-grab items
  • Order In Store app, for arranging out-of-stock items to be delivered to customers
  • Sell app, which provides hourly updates on sales and credit card sign-ups to inform workers on successful sales tactics
  • Check-out apps that allow customers to complete purchases anywhere in the store

Blame it on the ‘Zon

Amazon and other ecommerce giants move tons of products without staffing retail sales teams. Meanwhile, brick-and-mortar stores are struggling. In New York City:

  • Retail jobs in clothing stores were down 9% from 2013 to 2019… even while overall employment is up 14%
  • The number of national retail chain stores decreased 4% in 2019 for the biggest drop since 2008

So it makes sense that stores have taken efforts to offer the same conveniences as their online competition… and then some. 

Some have installed Easy Online Order Return stations — basically library book drops for buyer’s remorse.

Sales associates, meanwhile, have become much more than personal shoppers. They are cashiers, brand representatives, and database managers.

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