How the User Experience Transforms Shopping

The user experience (UX) for in-store technologies requires a lot of time and focus to execute just right. Simply put, UX includes a broad range of product characteristics, including interface design, task flow, and usability. In this era of omnichannel retailing, retailers should draw on the insight of customers to design a UX that efficiently addresses the complex needs of their shoppers and associates.
Retailers with a strong vision for omnichannel engagement want the advantages that mobile technology can bring to their stores, but don't want the technology to be a distraction to customers or associates. UX is the essential ingredient in making that vision a reality. It's the bridge between the engineering behind the scenes and the human interaction in the retail storefront. 
Here are several of the reasons we see UX as much more than an aesthetic issue:
User Adoption: UX is the primary driver of adoption. Just because you invest in a solution doesn't mean your employees will use it, or use it the way you intended. Take a straightforward task such as checking product availability — if a solution makes that task difficult, disruptive, or time consuming, associates simply won't do it, and the customer's shopping experience suffers as a result. To put it another way, adoption is the key to realizing your return on investment and the prerequisite to achieving anticipated improvements.
Associate Productivity: Poorly designed apps take longer to use. The more steps in a process, the longer an associate has to spend completing a task. Adding just a few seconds to a sale or service task, multiplied across thousands of transactions each year, leads to a measurable increase in your cost of sales. Conversely, as transaction times go down and associate productivity improves, retailers see a corresponding increase in customer satisfaction.
Associate Training/Time to Value: Mobile consumer technology has raised our expectations for usability. In the case of in-store solutions, UX is a time-to-value consideration. Retailers can invest a significant amount of resources in training associates to use an in-store tool. A solid UX can shorten the timeline between hiring an associate and putting them on the sales floor, and the more intuitive the tool, the lower your help desk and support costs.
Brand Building: A mobile in-store app isn't just for associates. It can and should be seen by your customers. Whether you plan it or not, the task flow, navigability, and design of the UX tool that facilitates interactions are reflections of your brand. They contribute to customer satisfaction and can increase the likelihood of a sale. Moreover, a positive experience with the UX can turn a shopper into a de facto ambassador for your brand.
The bottom line is that UX plays a central role in driving revenue and containing costs. It has a direct and tangible impact on the bottom line, and retailers who think of it as a luxury or afterthought simply aren't seeing the big picture. Take those next steps to an amazing UX to give your associates support and sales efficiency, and give your customers the brand experience they deserve.
Jerry Rightmer is EVP and chief product and strategy officer for Starmount.