There’s a myth that retail sales associates will be irrelevant with the dawn of new checkout technology and will be the first thing to go when retailers look to cut costs. This couldn’t be further from the truth as retailers rush to hire more sales associates than previous years in preparation for the upcoming holiday season. The driving factor behind this demand for in-store help is simple: improving the shopping experience in-store and online.
What many retailers struggle to realize is the vital role that their sales associates play in the checkout process, and more importantly in driving brand loyalty. Your sales associates are far more than door greeters and cashiers.
If you’re drawing a blank as to what the value of having sales associates in the time of self checkout and online ordering, there is one major concept that you are overlooking. When it comes to building brand loyalty, sales associates can be key in whether you’re growing sales or losing them.
Giving a New Meaning to Omnichannel
72 percent of U.S. consumers cite “the ability to touch, feel and try products” as their top reason for shopping brick & mortar. At the same time, customers value the convenience of being able to shop online, whenever they want.
The value of having an omnichannel experience has been harped on for the past few years with the rise of technology savvy shoppers that still like to make in-store appearances. What does this mean? The dawn of the omnichannel shoppers, signifies the need for the omnichannel sales associate.
Your sales associates should have the ability to serve both your online and offline customers. What we mean by this is for every omnichannel system you implement, like your retail credit program, your customer should be well versed in the processes across every channel.
The omnichannel sales associate’s role extends far beyond the register. Just like your customers expect to have the flexibility to shop whenever and however they want, they expect the same experience across these channels, including the presence of a sales associate at their disposal. For example, if you have a call center or a support team to aid your online shoppers, be sure that they are up to speed with in-store policies and processes as well.
Having versatile sales associates that can create positive experiences across all of your store channels can have a direct influence on the customer experience.
Creating Positive Customer Experiences
Your sales associates are your biggest brand champions. They have the power to greatly influence shoppers during the shopping journey and ultimately turn browsers into loyal customers. Having cranky employees as the face of your brand can be a turn-off to customers that are looking for positive in-store experiences.
Make it a priority to invest in your associates. Your associates can play a key part in your sales strategy, but empowering them with the right resources and tools to be successful is a necessity.
Devoting resources to additional training, providing them with the latest technology to reduce friction from the purchasing journey, and creating incentivized selling programs not only better equips your associates to do their job but also makes them loyal to your brand. Investing in the face of your storefront will pay off in the long run with happier associates and ultimately happier and more loyal customers.
Offering Promotions and Loyalty Programs
You have the right loyalty programs and promotions in place. These should sell themselves…right? Sales associates have the power to build loyalty, by upselling items or making your customers aware of a promotion, like applying for your store-card to save 50% on their next purchase.
The problem with credit programs today is that half of customers are declined for them. With the chance of rejection, many sales associates feel scared to offer these promotions and payment options at the risk of customers being declined and having to have an awkward interaction. Consider implementing credit options that are available for every customer to alleviate this stress from sales associate.
Knowing that every customer that applies for credit promotions will be approved will be the confidence your associates need to put your loyalty building programs front in center for customers. Getting more customers on board with your credit and loyalty programs, in turn will boost consumer confidence and grow you loyal customer base.
As you look to the holidays and 2018 planning, consider investing in resources that will help your sales associates thrive and help you to better achieve your customer loyalty goals.