Carphone Warehouse practising what it preaches with mobile

Mobile phone retailer Carphone Warehouse is drawing on many of the latest mobile technologies to ensure it provides a modern service to both its customers and members of staff.

According to UK CEO Andrew Harrison, it is "incredibly important" for a retailer such as Carphone to utilise smart technology in its stores because such a strategy is appreciated by the company's predominantly 'Generation-Y' workforce and it also portrays a positive image to those shopping in its stores.

Harrison was talking at MetaPack's The Delivery Conference on Tuesday, and the keynote speech came a week after the company announced it had entered a partnership with Samsung to open 60 cutting-edge standalone stores for the vendor across Europe. The collaboration with Samsung could provide a framework for future store partnerships with other mobile vendors.

Staff working in the new stores will use Carphone Warehouse's assisted sales tool, Magpie, which is an operating system that allows the retailer's workforce to check stock levels, compare prices and generally give sales colleagues an opportunity to have more interactive conversations with consumers.

Over the last year, the company has rolled out 5,000 tablets to members of staff across its portfolio of stores, which Harrison says has created "the single biggest digital workforce" around.

He added that it was a case of "putting technology at the heart of what we do and practising what we preach".

The in-store tablet devices can also maximise the opportunity for customer data collection, as well as reduce the time it takes to train staff, as company briefings can now be shared via these systems.

"These are the efforts we have to make to truly embrace what technology is doing to our business," Harrison explained.

The CEO suggested that the wider retail world is only at the "tip of the iceberg" in terms of how mobile is going to transform the industry. He also argued that the emergence of 4G is going to be the equivalent of moving from dial-up internet to broadband, creating many opportunities for businesses and consumers alike.

But with increased technological capability comes even more pressure to deliver the ultimate customer service, and Harrison argued that out of stocks should be "inexcusable going forward".

He said that if a product is in a retailer's warehouse it must be able to get to the customer by the next day at the latest, which can be achieved through "technology or good leadership".

"Successful retailers think differently – the shop is important for customer experience but we have to think incredibly differently about what we do [in-store]."