Here’s what happened when Avenue, a clothing retailer, turned to tablets to increase sales

retail-tabletsIt’s a bricks-and-mortar retail reality: You can’t stock everything, and that means you lose sales when a customer is looking for a style or color you don’t have.

This is the story of how Avenue, a specialty clothing retailer, bucked that trend with tablets.

In the past, Avenue’s sales associates were disconnected from the electronic system that tracked inventory. The system couldn’t be accessed from the sales floor and didn’t update in real time anyway. Salespeople were hamstrung when a customer asked for an item in a different size or color. Without the ability to check inventory at their store and others, Avenue’s sales team risked losing a customer.

So Avenue embarked on a mobile strategy that would enable sales associates to showcase the full array of styles and sizes available, in hopes they could “close the sale” on the spot.

Boosting sales while seeing real ROI

To understand why Avenue’s mobile strategy worked, let’s look at its business. The brand has about 300 stores, each of which carries hundreds of different products. Stores stock seasonal apparel, and each has a slightly different inventory depending on its location (after all, do you need warm scarves in Florida?).

Avenue’s leadership dreamed up a mobile strategy that brings answers directly to the customer. The vision: Sales associates assisting shoppers with a tablet in hand, running a custom app that would help close the sale or upsell accessories. With the app, salespeople could show the same item in different colors or a similar piece and its accessories, and customers could purchase everything right there and then. Plus, the tablets would allow managers to track inventory in real time from anywhere.

Every store needed at least one tablet, so Avenue was concerned about price and reliability. Avenue’s retail footprint covers dozens of states, so deploying the tablets posed a logistical challenge. Plus, the retailer wanted the tablets to come ready to use so in-store staff wouldn’t need to set up the device or install apps.

Avenue partnered with SHI to fulfill their tablet deployment, and SHI presented the company with three options along the pricing spectrum: Samsung Galaxy Tab A tablets, Apple iPads, and Acer Chromebooks. Each option fit Avenue’s needs at different price points.

After testing the three options, Avenue opted for the Samsung tablets because of their performance and potential for the greatest ROI in the shortest timeframe. SHI recommended add-ons to make each tablet a whole solution, and Avenue chose a case and stylus, as well as a charging dock, to be deployed with each tablet.

A methodical rollout

Avenue planned for a continual rollout. The retailer deployed tablets in 30 stores as a larger proof of concept, and after this successful wave of testing, it committed to supplying every store with at least one tablet.

Over the five-month rollout, SHI supplied the tablets for Avenue’s 300 stores and recommended MDM solutions to streamline device management. SHI’s network of suppliers gave Avenue flexibility: SHI could provide devices in just a few days while coordinating future deployments. If one supplier was tapped out of the Samsung tablets, SHI could lean on others to continue the deployment on time and on budget.

Once stores received their tablets, sales associates could simply turn on the devices and assist customers.

Growing order size by 20 percent

Today, Avenue has a stronger omni-channel strategy because of its in-store tablets. Associates are closing more sales and the average order is now 20 percent larger. The company is already seeing positive ROI on the tablets and anticipates recouping its initial investment in just a few months.

The price-conscious Samsung tablets allow associates and managers to manage inventory in real time and bring answers directly to the customer; shoppers also have access to more styles, colors, and hard-to-find items and accessories. The new strategy gives Avenue new opportunities to increase transaction volume and maximize profit.

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