Even as recently as five years ago, if you needed to buy something, you went to a shop. Look to the future and it’s predicted that “over 60% of retail sales will involve the web by 2017 – either as direct e-commerce transactions or as part of a shopper’s research.” It’s safe to say that consumer’s attitudes and habits towards shopping have changed and will continue to do so.
The Role of Physical Stores
As we move into an era where consumers are engaging digitally as well as physically, the role of the physical store has to evolve to survive. In order to safeguard stores there are some fundamental changes that need to occur, such as transforming the in-store experience itself.
It’s clear that shopping for fun isn’t a thing of the past – just take a look at the high street on a Saturday – and whilst online channels are great for convenience, the web just can’t deliver the same level of interaction as a human. Technology like mobile POS and Clienteling solutions helps retailers to capture vital consumer data and quickly deliver product information, but without human talent to execute it, this information is useless. What will attract customers to your physical stores are your sales associates armed with this information and ready to deliver a memorable shopping experience.
The Role of the In-store Sales Assistant has changed
Studies have shown that customers who interact with engaging staff are more likely to be loyal to a brand or store. In order to create this kind of brand experience, retailers need highly-skilled in-store brand ambassadors. These brand ambassadors need to embody the brand, love the products and have exceptional brand and product knowledge. In addition to this, they need to have remarkable interpersonal skills.
By equipping the brand ambassadors with Clienteling solutions and mobile technology so they can capture and access personal customer data, you are enabling your associates to deliver the ultimate personalised brand experience. Now if the consumer wants to order an out of stock item the sales associate can order it in-store there and then for them as well as being able to quickly suggest complimentary accessories for the outfit they are about to purchase, or paying for items whilst finishing up in the dressing room.
Finding the Right People
It’s easy enough to say that you need to find the right people for the task, but this can be more challenging than you first expect.
One way that retailers are narrowing the field to find potential employees who are likely to achieve their sales goal and customer objectives is via a relatively new HR strategy called “talent science.” Talent science is an approach which begins by identifying the core values of the retailers brand and culture as well as considering how the retailer would like to approach their customer. It then generates a profile which best predicts success within the retailer’s industry and provides a structure for evaluating potential employees.
However, hiring the right people won’t guarantee that sales soar. Retailers need to be actively involved in nurturing their associates; training them appropriately and equipping them with product knowledge and instilling them with the brand ethos.
This approach has had measurable success in the retail and fashion industries as better hires drive sales, improves customer satisfaction and decreases staff turnover.
With this in mind, employing the right people and rewarding customers who have visited your physical stores with a great experience in terms of brand and service could see retailers reaping multiple benefits including brand loyalty and increased sales.
Retailers who understand their customers, invest in talent, and leverage technology to enhance the customer experience have the opportunity to thrive in this new era of shopping.