How in-store associates can drive the omnichannel experience…and increase profits

Recently, I was in Target shopping for a comforter. As I was buying two of them (one for each kid), I found that there was only one on the shelf in the size I needed. Before I could even look for an alternative or search my smartphone, a sales person came around the corner to ask if I needed help. I told him the situation and within seconds he had located 2 of these comforters at one of their other stores on his hand-held scanner. It so happens that that store is just as close to my house as this one is. He even offered to call the store to put one on hold for me.

Now this could have easily been a unsatisfying experience for me…and Target for that matter, either having to go home to buy the second comforter online and maybe even finding it on a competitor’s site, or having to drive to the other store not knowing if they had any in-stock. What made this convenient and pleasant was the quick response and action by the sales associate to keep the sale. Having experienced, knowledgeable and trained staff is so crucial to delivering the customer experience, and ultimately driving sales. A recent study by the CFI Group talked about how valuable educated sales associates can be to a brick-and-mortar retailer needing to stay competitive with online retailers.

A big part of the success of in-store associates is having an omnichannel retail management system like SalesWarp, that allows them to provide product information, locate stock (whether at another retail store or on their website) and ultimately complete the sale, keeping it from a competitor. In the study, CFI Group found out that 35 percent of the variation in customer satisfaction was directly attributable to associate interactions. That could add substantially to the bottom line.

The article goes further into the advantage of the in-store experience over online – from being able to try-on and see the products in-person, to the associate being able to promote other related products and accessories, to ensuring the customer has selected the right product for their needs. Now I know some of this can be accomplished on-line and their will always be those who prefer to shop that way, but there will always be more than enough customers that prefer the personalized experience that can only be achieved through a face-to-face encounter.

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