Online shopping has not killed consumers’ desires to walk into a store and touch the products they buy, according to the president of a Tampa technology firm.
The company, Mad Mobile, has developed technology that gives retail sales associates in brick-and-mortar stores access to the same kind of data that shoppers would find online with retailers such as Amazon.
The technology addresses some of the issues raised in a new report from Capgemini Consulting, which found that one-third of the 6,000 consumers the company surveyed would rather clean dishes than visit a retail store.
“Consumers now expect a physical user experience that replicates what they find online, from expecting goods to be in stock to being able to choose from multiple delivery options. Consumers wish to use technology to help them engage with the store at every step of the shopping journey,” the Capgemini report said.
Mad Mobile’s technology, dubbed Concierge, gives sales associates instant access to product and customer data, so the associates know customers’ style preferences, what they have bought in the past, what’s in stock at their own store and what’s available at other stores. Associates can alert customers about new products they might like and set them aside in the store, or send them to the customer directly.
“Associates are empowered to give a great experience for the overall customer journey,” said Todd Fulmino, vice president, product development, at Mad Mobile. “By bringing all those systems together, productivity goes up, engagement goes up and that drives more sales.”
Books-A-Million, with 260 stores in 32 states and the District of Columbia, was an early Concierge adopter. The system also is in use in Talbots’ approximately 500 stores.
Ashley Furniture, based in Wisconsin and with its ecommerce headquarters in Tampa, plans to roll out the Concierge retail platform to store associates nationwide and internationally in 2017, a press release said.
The new technology is part of an evolution for Mad Mobile, which was launched in 2010, when retailers were only seeing about 5 percent of their traffic from mobile devices, said Greg Schmitzer, Mad Mobile’s president.
The company initially developed a platform that could tie retailers into ecommerce, mobilize their content and display it on a smaller screen. Mad Mobile signed up 90 major retailers, he said.
As online sales expanded, clients also wanted to have technology they could use in the store, where 90 percent of sales occur, he said.
"People still want to buy in stores as well as online and on the phone," Schmitzer said. “They still go to stores for apparel, jewelry, furniture. People want to touch and feel those products.”
Mad Mobile launched Concierge about a year ago and featured the product at the National Retail Federation’s BIG Show, the industry’s flagship event, last month in New York.
Mad Mobile, with its main office in Rocky Point, has been profitable since 2012, with growth that has been funded by sales, Schmitzer said. There are close to 90 people on staff, including 15 people at an office in Buenos Aires it picked up when it bought KidoZen Inc. in 2015. There also are offices in New York and London.
Some recent key hires include:
Doug Iverson, former vice president of North America sales for Oracle Retail, is now Mad Mobile’s chief revenue officer.
Kim Porter, a creative leader at Disney Consumer Products, most recently in the R&D division where she was creative lead on the product innovation team, is Mad Mobile’s vice president of digital innovation and user experience.
Jason Carney is vice president of technology operations at Mad Mobile and previously chief information officer at Vogue International, the Clearwater personal care products company that was bought by Johnson & Johnson for $3.3 billion last year.
The company currently has about 30 open positions.