In the previous blogs, we have discussed many topics in regards to emerging trends for retailers in the digital age, their effort to enhance sales, engage customers and improve the overall in-store experience. There is another aspect that is equally important to the success of today’s retailers – empower the store associates with an integrated retail system.
Technology has changed customer shopping behaviour significantly. They are more savvy, assertive and informed as 81% of consumers do some research about the products online before they buy, according to Adweek. This makes the customer shopping journey not as simple as it used to be; they learn about the products, promotion and branding online through mobile phones before actually buying the products at the stores.
Consumers have also come to expect instantaneous responsiveness from retailers, which means prompt customer service and immediate answers. Your store associates need their own technology just to keep up with today shoppers’ expectation.
Technologies provide data and insights, enhance the interactions with customers
Apart from the information that is already available online, most of the customers come to the store to learn more about the product and experience it first-hand. And your store associates are those who will communicate, impress and enhance the entire shopping journey.
Data related to a shopper’s online and in-store behaviour can be integrated into one system and made available to these associates through technologies like in-store tablets or mobile POS. Furthermore, the insights and behaviour analysis will improve the mobility and flexibility of your employees.
For example, when a customer is looking for a rare product, your employees can track the store inventory, make the order online when the item is out-of-stock, have the system estimates the precise delivery time or schedule another time that best fit the customers’ convenience.
Some retailers have installed smart sensors or beacons into their brick-and-mortar stores to collect valuable traffic data, thus, provide insights of how a shopper visits a store, in-store traffic patterns and how much time the customers spent in the shop.
The sensors are able to locate, identify and communicate with both the shoppers’ smartphones and employees’ devices, which ultimately helps to transform the store associate into a product expert. Off-the-shelf, platform and custom apps can be utilised to boost the customer engagement, improve service and support collaboration among associates, resulting in a higher level of customer satisfaction, build up trust between your store associates and the potential customers.
Store associates fulfil and personalise customer experiences
An integrated retail system yields a more active, customised sale approach – your employees are able to go beyond their typical seller role to an advisor. For example, if a customer is going to buy a party dress, the store associate can suggest additional accessories or offering special package promotion, hence, expanding the customer shopping cart. Interactions like these not only make customers feel welcome and valued but also add a lot to your reputation.
Leading online retailers, for example, Amazon has long integrated technology into their models that introduced customer with personalised recommendations and easy search functions. This leads the customer to expect the same experience with brick-and-mortar stores. That means brick-and-mortar retailers must have plans to improve their store associates performance.
In other words, if your employees have access to customer order histories and personal preferences, they can provide the same level of knowledge and recommendations as their customers get online. For a customised in-store experience, associates can access real-time omnichannel marketing insights, which automatically triggers rewards for a seamless customer experience.
Store associates to go beyond the purchase
An integrated retail system allows store associates to ignite more interactions, provide a more seamlessly service while reducing complexity and cost for the retailer. With more information about the customer shopping history at hand, the store associate can surprise shoppers by giving them unexpected rewards, customised coupons or loyalty discounts, which in the end will help to increase the shopping cart size.
Stores can also send out special invitations and exclusive offers to a loyal customer on a special date, such as a birthday or an anniversary. Such approach and shopping experiences help create outspoken brand advocates out of your repeat customers.
On the other hand, when customers are being treated like a VIP, they feel more delighted, valued and more willing to shop. They feel rewarded for engaging with your brand, deepen the loyalty and spark positive word of mouth.
The customer journey doesn’t end when the customer leaves the store, with digital technologies and store associate training, retailers can open up opportunities for more purchases in the future by sending automated messages to remind a customer of a collection they were interested in; let them know about sales and deals or answer follow-up questions after the customer has been in the store.
Retailers need to view the store associates as the front line impression with the customers. In order for your business to deliver a superior customer experience, retailers must now embrace technologies to empower their store associates and help them evolve. Integrated in-store technologies make the shopping experience more appealing and thriving by helping store associates deliver frictionless, customer-centric service that inspires the consumers to become your organic promoter.