Retailers must work harder than ever to get customers back into stores, says Alan Holcroft, country manager for northern Europe at Cegid.
We’ve all seen statistics highlighting the growth of ecommerce – such as UK online spending hitting a record high of £10bn in July – but we still believe bricks-and-mortar stores represent an irreplaceable stage in the customer journey.
A key reason for our optimism stems from the rapid retail transformation that is currently in motion.
With online shopping preferred by about 70% of Brits, store associates must work harder than ever to ensure customers return to the store. But how can they achieve this?
1. Know the customers
With 71% of customers admitting to feeling frustrated by impersonal shopping experiences, the era of relying on face-value customer information is fading fast.
Customers expect a personalised experience and are more likely to spend more and return to stores that offer this.
Store associates are expected to customise the experience offered to each customer and ensure their questions are answered and they receive recommendations tailored specifically to them.
“80% of customers agree that they’re more likely to shop again with brands that provide a personalised experience”
To achieve this, store associates should have access to tools like clienteling to acquire powerful insights on customers’ preferences, behaviours and purchases from existing customer data.
Due to personalised recommendations from store associates, 49% of customers purchased products they didn’t intend to buy, highlighting the power store associates have to upsell to customers based on their unique requirements.
With 80% of customers agreeing that they’re more likely to shop again with brands that provide a personalised experience, it’s clear that personalisation enhances customer retention.
2. Embody the brand
Research from Salesforce revealed that 84% of consumers agreed that the experience a brand provides is just as important as its products.
Bricks-and-mortar stores provide the perfect platform for store associates to create memorable brand experiences that customers simply can’t get online.
“Store associates must be extremely knowledgeable about products sold in store and online”
Since 81% of shoppers research products online before heading to the store, associates must be extremely knowledgeable about products sold in store and online.
They must clearly describe the benefits of products, confidently answer queries and go above and beyond to provide an exceptional experience that enhances each customer’s perception of the brand.
Shoppers who interact with store associates are 43% more likely to purchase an item and their transactions have 81% more value than those that weren’t engaged by an associate.
Consequentially, retailers are frantically hiring talent that can narrate their brands’ stories, embody their values and provide an exciting shopping experience that keeps customers coming back for more.
3. Be tech-savvy
The digital retail revolution is here and store associates are being armed with various solutions and data to revitalise the shopping experience.
Intuitive store solutions hold crucial customer information and support store associates in delivering omnichannel services, such as endless aisle, click and collect and e-reservations.
More and more store associates are using mobile devices to conduct inventory checks and offer contactless payment in store.
Mobile devices can even be used to stay connected with existing customers and livestream for customers who want to see products without coming to the store.
“The pandemic is defining a new role for store associates – one that’s driven by the customer experience, not sales targets”
Store associates must be comfortable using technological solutions and understand how they can be used to enhance the customer experience.
Failure to use these solutions effectively may result in customers leaving the store with a poor perception of the brand.
The global pandemic is rewriting the rules of retail and defining a new role for store associates – one that’s driven by the customer experience, not sales targets.
To succeed in their new role, they must embody the brand they represent and use innovative technology to personalise the shopping experience to ensure customers come back for more.
For more information on how you can empower your store associates and keep your customers coming back to store, download our Stores the New Way ebook.
Alan Holcroft is country manager for northern Europe at Cegid
Alan Holcroft has 20 years’ experience in the retail technology sector, helping retailers to grow their businesses and overcome challenges. He has worked with many well-known local and global brands during this time. He joined Cegid five years ago to help them develop their activities in northern Europe and has enjoyed significant growth over the past few years.