As seen on Innovative Retail Technologies.
Store associates and physical retail locations remain important for shoppers, however.
While 2016 can best be characterized as the “Year of the Mobile Store Associate” as more retailers got serious about leveraging mobile technology in their stores, a new survey from Tulip Retail suggests that more still needs to be done to train effective store associates for positive customer experiences. In fact, the survey demonstrated that 83 percent of shoppers believe that they are more knowledgeable than retail store associates, revealing a wide knowledge gap. Yet, despite this divide, 79 percent of consumers say that store associates are important to their shopping experience, and 64 percent believe that physical retail stores will remain a key element of shopping in the future. This is welcome news to retailers faced by the growing competition from online sales.
“The landscape for retailers with physical stores is changing drastically – and the 2016 holiday shopping season verified this as consumers spent a record amount with online retailers, while brick-and-mortar stores had to rely on heavy promotions and deep discounts,” said Ali Asaria, CEO of Tulip Retail.
“For retailers to combat the threat of online players in 2017, the most important investment they can make is empowering the store associate, which is the biggest advantage stores have over e-tailers, and helping to turn them into a beacon of knowledge, trusted advisor and relationship builder.”
The survey also found:
- Nearly half said a knowledgeable store associate who is able to suggest products based on their purchase history would encourage them to shop in-store;
- Almost three-quarters who dealt with a store associate using a mobile device to provide things like product info, credit card checkout, and inventory look-up, said it resulted in a better shopping experience;
- Almost three-quarters would be interested in having a store associate text or email them about the status of their order or that their order has arrived in the store;
- 53 percent believe that store associates are either “very valuable, very helpful” or “valuable, helpful”;
- Almost 30 percent know the store associates by name at the retailers they visit;
- 77 percent believe the biggest advantage of shopping in-store is the ability to touch, try on, and see products;
- 63 percent prefer to shop both in-store and online.
“Our survey had some sobering findings that should keep executives of brick-and-mortar retailers up at night – the fact that nearly 90 percent of respondents shop at Amazon and that store associates are not meeting customer expectations,” said Ali Asaria, CEO of Tulip Retail.
“But there’s also some really good news for retailers that our survey uncovered – knowledgeable store associates are valued by shoppers, and those empowered with mobile technology are delivering better shopping experiences. Bottom line, investing in store associates needs to be a high priority. With the right tools, they can become beacons of knowledge, trusted advisors and drive sales.”