There are many "new norms" in retail right now, and they do not only relate to our current economic situation. Digital retail has been changing the retail game for some time. Retailers need the perspective and tools to thrive in 2020 and beyond. And a fundamental asset in achieving strong sales in the face of eCommerce is found in their retail store associates (RSAs). 

Why RSAs Are Better Than Websites

There is a reason eCommerce businesses are highly encouraged to use videos to attract buyers. A 2018 marketing survey found that 83% of online marketers believe videos are imperative to engage customers. This is because consumers react to personal connections. Consumers respond to stories, shared insight, empathy, humor, touch, flattery, and all the idiosyncrasies that make people engaging. Videos can only replicate the personalization store personnel can offer in-store when they greet and interact with buyers. 

Passionate reps sell 

According to a Sales Executive Council global study, which interviewed 6,000 sales reps, there are five distinct types of star-performing sales reps, with "Challengers" comprising 54% of top performers. These Challengers were found to be extremely passionate about their role, to the point where they challenge customers (and even bosses) with their deep understanding of the individual customer experience and the products they sell. 

What was most interesting about the above study was that it revealed that simply encouraging relationships with customers does not lead to the most successful outcomes. Unfortunately, many sales associates and their sales managers focus on relationship building. This study showed that sales reps who can push customers to think in new ways, even despite creating some tension, actually leads to more sales.

Passionate and challenging reps:

  • Seek out to understand customers to help them see how product can fulfill their needs
  • Genuinely believe in and have enthusiasm for the products they sell, which is both contagious to customers and fellow reps
  • Teach customers with insight that goes beyond product features and benefits
  • Curtail messages to individual customers with a degree of assertion

Read More: Creating Retail Experiences That Beat Online Shopping

The Customer Experience

Customers want trust

Customers require trust when they decide to buy a product. Store sales associates help build trust. When your reps communicate enthusiastically, informatively, and genuinely, customers buy more, come back for repeat business, and spread the word about their experience. 

Reps can more readily answer customer questions and relate how a product can work for a customer with their understanding of the person standing in front of them, far better than any website chat bot or online customer review can. 

Customers want to be understood

Nobody likes to be pitched at. Compliantia CEO Fabien Tiburce says retailers and sales reps should "Stop obsessing over price and even the product…obsess over the customer. Make them feel wonderful when they step into your stores (and) they will be back.” 

Retail experts encourage stores to research to better understand potential customers and get to know existing customers beyond how they engage with their stores. Having a deep understanding of what motivates customers and training retail sales teams on this enables them to provide more authentic engagement and insightful recommendations beyond price-points when they talk to customers.  

Customers want fun

Holding in-store events, providing entertainment, and featuring wow-factors, like cool technological displays, give your customers something to get excited about and talk about and leaves them with a positive impression about shopping in your store. 

Things to keep in mind when creating customer experiences:

  • 62% of customers expect personalized discounts or offers based on past purchases.
  • When shopping in-store, 54% of consumers value “prompt service” most of all. 
  • 56% and the number one reason consumers shop in-store is the ability to touch, smell, and hear the products or, in some cases, try them on. 

Happy Employees, Happy Customers

A focus often overlooked is the importance of keeping staff motivated and best positioned to perform well. Glassdoor, a website that collects current and former employee reviews on employers, conducted a study spanning 10 years, 13 industries, and 293 large employers. They found that employee company ratings correlated with statistical significance to customer satisfaction rates. They also found that employee ratings translated into higher stock market valuations between 7.8-18.9% for each additional star rating an employee gave. And when results were narrowed to only businesses where employees interacted closely with customers, like in retail, that significance more than doubled. Glassdoor's research findings were identical to those found in an empirical research study conducted by SpringerLink. Clearly, happy employees impact bottom lines.   

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Using Your Front Line Resource

According to a recent study, “Shoppers who interact with a sales associate are 43% more likely to purchase a product, and their transactions have 81% more value, compared to those who don’t interact with an associate. In addition, they are 12% more likely to revisit the store.”

And more than facilitating sales and building relationships as a store advocate, store reps can be a tremendous resource in providing frontline insights. Staff can observe customer behaviors in-store and provide valuable feedback through their interactions. They can even be tasked with asking specific questions or conducting surveys. Store associates are an effective real-time researcher of your in-store customer base.  

In Short 

Passionate retail sales people who can identify with customers in personable ways and are motivated and optimistic in their roles as both store advocate and solution provider for customers perform well. The statistics back this up. For most retailers, this requires a refocus on how to best prepare and collaborate with their retail staff.    

How We Can Help 

SellPro offers a unique engagement platform that allows retailers to better prepare and motivate their employees. The platform also helps retailers encourage their vendors to invest in engaging RSAs by providing access and tools to easily create and deploy their own micro-engagement content. Vendors are happy to invest as the more store personnel-facing content they have on the platform, the more direct impact they have on retail employee mind-share, recommendations, and sales. 

To learn more and experience how we can help, please request a demo below.

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Additional Resources:

Touch me, feel me: Creating Retail Experiences That Beat Online Shopping
Communication is Key: Planning the Return to Retail
Thinking Beyond The Crises - How To Bring Back Your Retail Staff
Ultimate Guide to Training Retail Employees