The role of the store staff is changing. With brick-and-mortar stores at the center of the omnichannel universe, staff are tasked with far more than simply stocking shelves and facilitating point-of-purchase sales. They also have to be digitally-connected personal shoppers, fulfilment specialists, and customer service agents. This is due, in part, to the fact that connected consumers are looking for the online experience in-store. They want the best of both worlds—the selection and convenience associated with online shopping along with the enhanced service, personalised touch, and instant gratification they get from shopping in-store.
As an omnichannel retailer, if you aren’t equipping store staff with the tools and information they need to provide a seamless experience for your customers, those customers are likely to find a competitor who will. By arming store associates with mobile devices that connect them with a real-time view of inventory across channels, a single view of the customer, and order information that supports a unified experience, they become your secret weapon for improving customer engagement, boosting sales, and increasing loyalty.
With the right training, technology, and information at their fingertips, your store associates can be empowered to:
Provide Better Customer Service
One of the key benefits of shopping in-store is the ability to get questions answered quickly, accurately, and comprehensively by a knowledgeable store staff member. To best serve and support customers, at a bare minimum your store staff need to be able to access the same kinds and depth of information as your customers can view on their own devices. But the capabilities should go even further than that. When staff are armed with mobile devices that provide access to detailed product specifications, ratings, reviews, price comparisons, assembly instructions, how-to videos, and other relevant information, they can more effectively answer customer questions and provide the type of assistance they need to make an informed buying decision in-store. Having access to in-depth product information also allows store staff to make better recommendations, opens the door to upsell/cross-sell opportunities, and enables them to close sales faster and easier.
Deliver Tailored In-Store Shopping Experiences
To provide the type of online shopping experience consumers are seeking in-store, staff need to be able to see a complete view of customers’ prior interactions—both online and offline. This includes access to past purchase details, wish lists, loyalty history, customer service issues, and other essential information that helps store staff understand customers’ preferences, behaviours, and intentions so they can provide a tailored in-person shopping experience.
Unfortunately, although many shoppers interact with a retailer’s website and other online channels before coming into the physical store, most retailers do not give store staff access to the customer profile information that would help them deliver more personalised service. If you arm store staff with a 360-degree view of customers’ online orders, engagement history, store transactions, loyalty information, and even social media interactions, they will be able to make more informed product recommendations that either complement previous purchases or match items for which shoppers have already indicated an interest. Your store staff can then start building rich customer profiles in real-time that can be used during your customers’ future in-store visits.
Enable the Endless Aisle
As long as you have a centralised order management system that can see and report on available inventory across channels in real-time and with a high degree of accuracy, your store staff can also facilitate an endless aisle experience. This is an essential omnichannel capability that allows you to meet your customers’ expectation of having access to your entire catalog of products, regardless of whether they’re shopping online or in your brick-and-mortar store.
With the endless aisle, no item is ever truly out-of-stock. Your store staff can quickly and easily use their mobile devices to find the product in your supply network—whether it’s in another retail store, a warehouse, or with a drop-ship vendor—and have it shipped to a customer’s home or to one of your physical stores for pickup. When a staff member can conveniently place a customer’s order while they are shopping in-store, the ordering process is frictionless, basket size increases, conversion rates rise, and customer satisfaction and loyalty improve as well.
Ultimately, when shoppers enter brick-and-mortar stores—where the vast majority of all retail sales still take place—they’re looking for an enhanced shopping experience that blends all of the benefits of shopping online with those of shopping in-store. By leveraging omnichannel technology, product information, customer data, and your entire inventory across channels, your store staff can help you deliver the kinds of seamless and personalised in-store experiences today’s consumers crave.