By Advertising, Apps & Sites, News & Events

by Mark Jaffe

Mobile phones have to be one of the best on the spot, at the moment, information retrieval resources of all time.  How many times have you seen disagreements settled immediately, courtesy of a quick iPhone web research query?  Well, it looks like some companies are ready to capitalize upon our penchant for instant research about things that interest us.

Let’s flash back to a recent industry panel where a senior Best Buy executive said “The right information at the point of impulse increases desired consumer’s behavior, sales, profits and customer satisfaction.” That sure sounds like a description of one of Best Buy’s best in-store salespeople helping out customers standing next to the latest electronic gizmo in one of their stores. 

It isn’t.

The conference was a mobile conference and the speaker was the senior manager of marketing and emerging capabilities at Best Buy.  She was talking about using mobile phones – not salespeople – as the information source at the point of impulse. I guess there is nothing like a little recession to make retailers think a little harder about how utilize our collective penchant for using our mobile phones for quick research projects and potentially saving some money in labor costs in the process.

Here’s how it works:  Using the mobile phone, customers can request information about any product on demand in a Best Buy store with a call to action on a product fact tag in store. What a great idea for consumers (no more pesky sales people asking ‘how can I help you’) and what a great idea for Best Buy (cut a little payroll here and there as the idea takes hold – I know, I know, not one salesperson will be fired as a result of this technological advance which is solely dedicated to the betterment of our customers:)

The truth is that we are already moving more and more to a self-service environment, anyway.  Why not leverage the mobile phone to eliminate cost, bring down prices, reduce the frustration in trying to flag down elusive salespeople to ask questions, and give us another excuse to have fun looking up info on our mobiles?  It sure makes sense to me.

So, let’s take this one step further.

What if retailers gave us the opportunity to engage in interactive texting?  Think of all the time we waste, and frustration we accumulate, in big box stores feeling like we always have to muscle in to get a little service.  Wouldn’t it have been a lot easier to just text in the question via mobile phone?  Then, get an answer and re-text our next question?

Why stop at electronics stores? What a great way for bookstores to compete with online retailers – just text in the title you are looking for and receive information on whether or not it is in-stock and where it can be found.

And, how great would it be to have self service mobile Q&A on the new car lot?  I don’t really like all of the sales pressure from those pushy car salespeople and now I can avoid it once and for all.  For good measure, I could just text the offers and counteroffers back and forth and never have to talk to them in person!

The best application, though, would be in high end department and apparel stores.  After trying on the overpriced designer suit, I could text in the question “How does it look?” I guarantee the response will be the same as if I had asked an in-store salesperson (who could actually see me in the suit) the same question.

On second thought, text messaging just can’t replace the sincerity of those baby blue eyes telling me I how good I look, even if they don’t really mean it.

Mark Jaffe is a mobile industry and digital media executive with an active consulting business that enables mobile technology companies, as well as other technology and digital content companies, to achieve breakthrough revenue growth with sustainable profits from a foundation of sound strategic analysis and innovation. He is also a noted speaker at industry conferences, as well as a speaker and facilitator at corporate retreats and strategy workshops. Further biographical information can be found at

If you would like to access Mark Jaffe’s blog Mobile Mandala directly, please visit  If you would like to communicate with Mark Jaffe directly, please email

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Will Mobile Phones Replace In-Store Retail Salespeople?”


    Very interesting post on using mobile technology for self-service in retail. With the advancement of smartphone technoogy, people are increasingly becoming more self-sufficient when collecting purchase influencing information. At Globaltel Media we’ve seen particular interest from our retail customers to be able to provide specific product details and mobile couponing to their customers remotely. By providing customers with on the spot information about products, retailers are able to build a bond and level of trust with customers, increasing the chances of purchase and brand loyalty. It’ll be exciting to watch how mobile technologies continue to advance in retail to help customers make educated purchases. Thanks for the post!


    Nice site.It’s amazing how fast new models and applications come out !