[Preview#7] The new role of the Store-associate

Store-associates are unquestionably at the center of the physical store experience, representing the retailer, its values and the brands/products sold; that’s why one of the most important rules in retail states: “How sales personnel engage shoppers can make or break a retail store.

Dear Retailers, how those interactions go will in the end determine if shoppers will make purchases and suggest your stores to friends, family and colleagues…

…or leave, maybe never to return again.

So please repeat after me: “Store-associates are tremendous influencers of buying decisions!!

Fortunately most retailers take to heart this notion and typically make sure their Store-associates demonstrate effective product knowledge, spending a lot of money on product-training – by the way, this is one of the few topics where brands (“manufacturers”) and pure retailers (“distributors/merchants”) don’t clash – it is in their mutual best interest that Store-associates know everything about the products they are selling.

As a matter of fact, retailers can use specialized knowledge to convey trust and enhance the shopping-experience: the goal is not just to sell, but to sell AND to make shoppers’ lives simpler and better-off. Consumers crave simplicity, personalization, transparency and a human touch from their brick-and-mortar visits – what they really want is to have “friction” removed.

This is a very, very important concept, dear Retailers: “friction” is anything that comes in the way of a shopper’s ability to achieve her objective.

As a matter of fact, the main goals of a shopper are:

– satisfy her primary needs (…I love Maslow…!)

– spend wisely (…pay the right price, don’t waste money…)

– save time (…because time is the scarcest resource…)

– feel unique and valued (…”I deserve it!”…)

Therefore, any *effective* shopper-oriented retail activity must take into account – first and foremost – those four goals.

To tell the truth, product-training is useful, but it’s not enough; Store-associates need far more to become curators, product-gurus, brand ambassadors, and so on: they need modern, advanced technologies to effectively interact with shoppers and sell successfully.

It is crucial for retailers to provide Store-employees full access to detailed and up-to-date information about products, prices and promotions, and – at the same time – about individual shoppers (leveraging insights coming from the retailer’s loyalty program, for instance).

Only so Store-associates can provide a on-the-ball, 360-degree, personalized, *awesome* shopping-experience!

In a nutshell: your Store-associate, empowered by advanced technologies(*)for example an effective Mobile POS solution – are able to evolve and become even better sale-professionals.

But…

…but, dear Retailers, I beg you, don’t make the mistake of overestimating the benefits of tech; bear in mind that shoppers visit your stores for the kind of assistance and empathy they can’t – obviously! – get from an ecommerce site; therefore in-store technologies should only serve to boost an already remarkable human experience, not compensate for a mediocre one.

Andy Cavallini

 

 

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