How Retailers Can Welcome, Not Fear, Technology

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I overheard a story the other day about a retailer banishing a customer for scanning their item with their iPhone. The shop employee figured they were price-checking on the Internet and wouldn't allow the customer to continue. That is ridiculous.

People often fear what they don't understand. Maybe that's why so many mom & pop retailers STILL don't have a website.

One of the apps I use on my iPhone is RedLaser RedLaser Video which lets you scan any bar code. Many times there is no one around when I have a question about a purchase. I can bring up the application, scan it and find the information online instantly.

Ban the iPhones and Blackberries and you could upset those most able to purchase your products. Can the newest applications (apps for short) price compare? Certainly but the sale is still yours to lose.

Amazon has an app that allows you to take a photo, send it to Amazon with optical recognition software, and within a few minutes, it messages the user that it found the item and it can be purchased immediately.

Is that scary? Maybe.

But what opened the door to all of these shopping apps? Businesses that cut labor, didn't train employees what features and benefits the products have, hiring employees who don't use the technology or products the retailer carries, and customers were not willing to "try to find someone."

The sale is yours to lose.

How to deal with the app user?

1. Welcome and engage them. "I see you're using one of the new shopping apps. How do you like it?"

2. Ask to see what the net shows about your product.

3. Fill in the details that the net doesn't have about your product. Anything to beware of? Something that makes it better? Have you used it personally and found a trick? Now's your chance.

4. Create a compelling reason for them to buy it from you now.No waiting, no shipping fees, no surprises.

5. Thank them for educating you about their mobile device.

My advice for those of you who fear this technology? Buy one yourself so you know what you are talking about, fearing, and worrying about. And stop calling your buddies with the loser's limp, "They get all the information from me and then buy it online." Look in the mirror, the reason they didn't buy is because of you. Drop the anger and fear and embrace the technology.

Retail isn't going to get any easier, you might as well seize the day so you can capture all of the business that walks in your door; not just what you are used to.