Many retailers are saddled with under-utilizing store operations teams with associates that don’t go out of their way to enhance the shopping experience, and are focused on incentives that aren’t reflective of treating shoppers well. With store operations costs accounting for 5-25% of net sales, retailers need to evolve the role of the sales associate to become digitally empowered to continue to drive more sales.
Utilizing store associates in a more meaningful way, both digitally and personally, can significantly enhance the store experience and drive loyalty and sales for shoppers. Using mobile technology in retail stores to drive more digital touchpoints (products browsed, dwell time, etc.) promotes a seamless experience for shoppers in the store, prompting them to invest more time and money with the brand as it will be tailored to their individual needs. Adding more of these touchpoints in the store can extend the shopper journey with a retailer and can continue the conversation, post-visit or post-conversion.
What do retailers need to do to empower store associates to provide great service for shoppers?
Provide Adequate Training And Have Success Metrics In Place
According to an RSR study, 36% of retailers surveyed said that they do not have enough time to properly train their store associates with in-store technologies and spend too much time doing administrative work and inventory management. On top of that, it is even harder trying to quantify the ROI of investing in store associate training as many companies are unclear of what success looks like for them. Whether the training is done internally or done by a service provider, making sure their is a strong curriculum in place focusing on stellar experiences. Defining clear outcomes (adoption rate of in-store technology, increase in average order value) is critical for success.
Incorporate Non-Selling Performance Metrics to Associates’ Commission Structures
Any shopper that walks into a store that has associates on pure commission will do their best to avoid talking to them at all costs. Retailers have to understand that focusing on pure selling touchpoints won’t drive the highest return on investment for a store. Making store operations more efficient in terms of aligned priorities (associate incentives and value of in-store data collection) can extend a relationship with a potential customer that leads to greater lifetime value. With store associate on the frontline creating better experiences for shoppers, the pressure is off of the associate to get the shopper to purchase right then and there. By looking into more non-selling touchpoints and understanding the data a retailer will receive and how that can extend the customer journey is more compelling over the long run. Restructuring store associate commission plans based on email collection or percentage of shoppers using in-store technology should make up a portion of a associate’s wage.
Quantify the Influence of a Store Associate in Omnichannel ROI
As retail becomes more converged from online and offline realms, understanding which functions are driving the highest returns is critical. By collecting email addresses in the store, a retailer can use that information to continue that dialogue before the shopper makes a purchase on their own terms. Whether that be through newsletter sign-ups, seasonal offers, or in-store remarketing efforts via display and email, the touchpoints started with the store associate can properly be attributed once a purchase has been made.
At the end of the day, retailers need to be attuned to shopper needs and map out a strategy to make sure that they are providing the correct level of service and experience to differentiate themselves against the competition. Taking a store associate and equipping them to become digitally savvy and connect in a way that is relevant to today’s shopper is a start towards a sustainable omnichannel strategy.