Drive Store Traffic & Sell Virtually Across all Channels

Retailers like Chico’s and Saks Fifth Avenue are leveraging Salesfloor to overcome challenges in the retail industry such as decreased store traffic and the lack of personalized customer service online.

Oscar Sachs, CEO of Salesfloor shares their stories in video below.

To find out how you can increase your online conversions by 10x and your average order value by 50%, schedule a demo with us today.

The Changing Role of Store Associates

Join Salesfloor and Ben Bridge/Pandora as they discuss the changing role of store associates and explore how critical trends in conversational sales, intelligent recommendations, and data-driven personalization are the competitive advantage in the future of retail.

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Retail Is Your Business

For the first time, e-commerce will not just be a channel for transactions – people can now actually browse and shop online, just like they did in-store. On “Retail Is Your Business” podcast, Ben Rodier (Co-Founder & Chief Client Officer at Salesfloor) shares how the company offers a mobile application platform designed for store associates so they can personalize each interaction with consumers, whether that’s in-store, online, on social – any channel, helping clients get a 10x lift in online conversions and 47% increase in average order values, compared to traditional e-commerce metrics. Salesfloor is enabling store associates to go virtual where consumers are met on retailer and brand websites by an associate from a local store near the consumer and can help guide the shopping experience by offering product / apparel recommendations, can demo items via live video chat, etc.

 

Listen to the full podcast here:

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When COVID hit, the way consumers shopped changed in many ways, mainly the surge it caused for online commerce.

Thinking back to when going to instore stores was a thing no one thought twice about, what made that in-store experience so great? The vibe, the energy, the fact that sales associate gave intel and advice, hooked customers up with cheaper options or discounts. Sometimes, it was simply nice for customers to discuss products with someone who understands them.

In this podcast, host Pat Perdue asks, “what if there was a way to bring that in-store experience to your home, so that you can still shop with your favorite associate?” He interviews Salesfloor’s Oscar Sachs about how Salesfloor makes this happen.

 

Listen to the full podcast here:

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Salesfloor 2021 Roadmap

As reported in Chain Store Age and Women Wear’s Daily (WWD) article, retailers using Salesfloor drove up to 50% more sales on Black Friday 2020 compared to Black Friday 2019. Virtual and in-store appointments have also surged, with retailers seeing a 1025% increase in virtual and in-store appointments booked via Salesfloor.
The online shopping trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down, with 2020 proving to be the year of clienteling and virtual selling. More retailers have partnered Salesfloor in 2020 than any other year before to bridge the online-offline service gap, including Ben Bridge, Cos Bar, Buckle, and more.
Salesfloor consolidates clienteling, virtual selling, live events, and all features retailers need today on a single platform.  We continue to bring new, innovative features to help retailers elevate the omnichannel experience. These are some of the must-have features for a post-pandemic reality that Salesfloor is delivering in 2021.
Virtual Appointments

Help customers shop with their local stores by offering convenient and secure video consultations with in-store product experts.

  • Integrated video conferencing functionality into Salesfloor’s existing appointment management module.
  • Video meeting link automatically embedded in appointment invite for secure one-to-one meeting room.

Eventing

Store Associates create localized in-store or virtual events for customers. Empower associates to drive traffic to stores and create engaging online customer experiences through events.

  • Each store creates personalized events for their customers.
  • Customers receive invitations through all Salesfloor channels like e-mail, text message or social media.

RSVPs can be managed and reported for each event.

Live Streaming

Associates reach a broad audience with livestream events. Customers can watch livestreams or view a re-stream of real-life experts.

  • Associates record or live stream video events.
  • Live streaming can be viewed on the retailer’s e-commerce site and all Salesfloor customer-facing touchpoints.
  • Re-stream videos can be shared with customers via e-mail, text message or social media.

 

Co-Shopping

While in a chat/video consultation, customers share their screen with an associate to co-browse the retailer’s e-commerce site for a premium guided selling experience.

  • Integrated screenshare into Salesfloor’s Live Chat/Video functionality.
  • Associates can recommend products as they browse the site with the customer.

 

Lead Automation

When online customers reach out to local store associates for help, capture valuable customer intent and preference data so associates can make better recommendations.

  • Custom dynamic form fields and messaging bots capture customer needs.
  • Incoming leads have enhanced routing to the appropriate associate.

Lead Capture Automation - Chatbot

 

Smart Tasks

Create dynamic rules that detect selling opportunities and customer propensity to buy. Automatically notify associates of the best time to reach out to their customers and make personalized recommendations.

  • Easy-to-build task rules engine.
  • Intelligent rules based on transaction history, browsing history, customer attributes, digital conversations, and third-party data.

 

Basket Builder

Associates build a cart of recommended products that link customers directly to the e-commerce shopping cart for a convenient online checkout experience.

  • Associates add a basket of products to cart and assign to new or existing customer.
  • Embedded link in text message, live chat or e-mail integrates with retailer’s e-commerce platform to automatically populate shopping cart.

 

Hosting Virtual Retail Events in the COVID Era

Pre-pandemic, retailer-hosted events were an effective way to bring consumers together to show off the latest products, with product experts providing tips and suggestions on different models or what the next trend was. It was a way for a brand to immerse people in their “brand story” and build a loyal following. And it also introduced new consumers to the brand with a lower customer acquisition cost (CAC) than trying to acquire that customer online. Plus, the impulse buys from people in-store was a big benefit to the brand. Then COVID-19 hit, and these events came to a screeching halt.

However, savvy brands aren’t letting the pandemic get in the way of these gatherings. They’ve adapted. And the virtual event was born…

Virtual events can be engaging by nature, allowing associates to present while participants interact with them or with each other though video or chat. Livestream events are useful for associates to present product showcases, host workshops or just share their knowledge, and can be used as sales collateral once recorded.

 

Benefits of virtual events

Bigger turnouts: While a store has capacity restrictions and store events could only hold a limited number of people, virtual events can have literally hundreds of people “attend,” thereby increasing brand awareness to a greater number of people. Also, the RSVP rate tends to be higher at these virtual events – there is no travel involved, no need to cancel because of inclement weather, no geographical boundaries, and with so many people bound to their homes, a virtual event is seen as a “getaway” where they get the full experiential experience.

Build Loyalty by Engaging Customers in a Personalized Way: The stores or associates hosting the virtual event have the opportunity to broaden their network, nurture the attendees, and follow-up after the event in a personalized way. The conversation doesn’t have to end once the event is over – the associate can continue to nurture that one-to-one relationship, elaborate on topics that the customer was interested in during the event, and encourage two-way communication that builds loyalty.

Empower associates to create and manage their own virtual events: Store associates that are provided with mobile store technology have the ability to plan and manage their own virtual events. Associates who already have relationships with their customers invite them personally to the event and tailor the content according to the audience. They can send product links and messages to the customers they are inviting through digital channels like e-mail, text messaging and video or live chat (they can even add them in the invite itself). Customers respond directly to the associate, providing a personalized  customer experience before, during and after the event. Associates using mobile store technology leverage the store and virtual events to drive online sales, and credited for sales attributed to their events.

More data is collected: The more data a brand can collect and use to personalize experiences, the greater the customer journey. Virtual events can provide brands with a deeper level of insight than they would otherwise have gotten in an in-store event. At what point during the event was engagement highest? Did people join late, signaling that the event started too early for some people? When did attendees begin to logoff? Leveraging this type of data helps ensure that each virtual event gets better and more relevant, and provides insight on individual customers’ interests.

If you’re a brand that’s looking to try a virtual event for the first time, or if you’ve done them before but feel like there’s room for improvement, we’re here to assist. With Salesfloor’s Event Management module, associates can create and manage their own virtual events and invite groups of customers via e-mail or text message. The event can also be promoted on the associate’s Storefront. Associates create an event information page and manage RSVPs directly on the Salesfloor app.

We know that the pandemic will end at some point, but virtual events are here to stay. While we’re all looking forward to the day when we can again host or attend in-store events, many brands have experimented with virtual events and the benefits are clear to them. Therefore, they should continue to be a part of a retailer’s strategy.

Four Ways Consumer Behavior Will be Different This Holiday Season

A year ago, no one could have imagined consumers would be holiday shopping with masks on. This year’s Holiday season is going to look quite different for both retailers and consumers because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The way consumers shop has changed, with many choosing to spend less and others starting their holiday shopping earlier than usual. For retailers, these changes mean they have to adapt to social distancing restrictions, anticipate spikes in online shopping, and work to prevent inventory issues.

Below are four changes in consumer behavior that retailers should prepare for this holiday season.

 

  1.     Consumer Spending

The pandemic affected many consumers financially, which has caused retailers to be concerned about a possible YOY drop in sales. Daniel Bachman, Deloitte’s U.S. economic forecaster, predicts that while high unemployment can negatively affect sales this year, reduced spending on other services like restaurants and travel might actually boost sales.

A recent report by Deloitte indicates the growth rate for retail sales will be less than in previous years, but that they are still expected to rise between 1% and 1.5% during the November to January timeframe. Another report by AlixPartners included October as part of the holiday season this year, and forecasts an increase in 1.0%-2.6% from October – December compared to the same three-month period last year.

“The digital retail experience tends to lean more toward self-service than the in-store shopping journey. One solution to filling this void is clienteling, which makes digital shopping more human.” – Sarah Jones, Sourcing Journal.

 

  1.     Online vs. In Store

While stores were closed, 56% of people did more online shopping at home. This trend is expected to continue in the next two quarters. Social distancing is still in effect, and most consumers are avoiding crowded places. Because of this, more holiday shopping will inevitably occur online. In fact, 72% of consumers anticipate they will continue shopping more online even with stores open.

Deloitte expects online holiday sales to increase by 25% to 35%. eBay has reported that a majority (54%) of their shoppers claim they will be doing all of their holiday shopping online, and nearly three-quarters plan to buy more of their gifts online this year. BlackFriday.com also reported that consumers will prefer a digital experience this holiday season, with more consumers predicted to shop on Cyber Monday compared to Black Friday.

“Having strategies that support physical stores while still catering to online consumers is critical for success.” – Madeleine Streets, Footwear News

  1.     Holiday Specials and Sales

Traditionally, Black Friday has involved getting consumers in store. This year, retailers will have to limit store traffic and reinforce public safety measures. Many will be encouraging and facilitating online shopping to compensate. For example, Target has already said it will have 20,000 additional products on its e-commerce site this year.

This surge in online sales has already caused supply chain bottlenecks, and Bloomberg predicts this will make e-commerce costs soar. To avoid this, retailers will be encouraging buy online, pick up in store. They will also stagger their promotional events so that consumers begin shopping well before Black Friday.

“While the concept of “clienteling” isn’t necessary new itself, the decrease in in-store foot traffic has put retailers in the mindset where they know they have to make up the difference in possible sales elsewhere.” – Glenn Taylor, Sourcing Journal 

 

  1.     Holiday Shopping will Start Earlier

An estimated 49% of consumers plan to start their holiday shopping before Halloween, up by 7% compared to last year. According to Joel Bines, global co-leader of the retail practice at AlixPartners, consumers have been holiday shopping earlier and earlier every year, and the pandemic has accelerated this trend. Retailers also want to encourage consumers to begin shopping earlier to compensate for potential shipping and inventory issues, as well as make up for sales lost while stores were closed.

Hudson’s Bay and Canadian Tire are already selling Christmas clothing and decor, and Indigo is adapting by making shopping before and after hours available to loyalty members who feel compromised.

 

Retailers will need to stand out from competitors more than ever this holiday season in order to drive sales, both online and in store. Clienteling helps build customer loyalty by enabling store associates to build lasting, one-to-one relationships with customers at scale. They communicate in a personalized way with relevant messages that are tailored to the individual based on their profile and past purchases. Associates make recommendations by e-mail, live chat, video chat, text messaging or social media messaging, according to the customer’s preference.

Eighty percent of customers are more likely to purchase products or services from brands that provide personalized experiences. In fact, 72% of customers only engage with messages that are tailored to their interest.

Clienteling also gives retailers a direct connection to online customers. It allows the customer to ask questions and receive answers from local store associates in real-time, by video chat, live chat, e-mail, or text messaging.

The average store associate now serves 94 online customers per week with Salesfloor, and have sales conversion rates between 12% and 15%. Contact us for a 15 minute demo.

Salesfloor Video Chat | Video Calling

5 Things for Retailers to Consider When Launching Video Chat in Stores

Several years ago, Salesfloor launched video chat for store associates as a prototype to test and learn how the functionality could be used in a real-life store setting. Although retailers loved the concept of video at first, feedback from stores was that they preferred communicating with clients using live chat, e-mail and SMS because it provided a more controlled experience. 

Fast forward 6 years: Video chat has re-emerged as an opportunity for associates to provide personalized service and connect with customers, as store closures and socially distanced shopping challenge retailers. 

As an increasing number of retailers are launching video chat for their stores, we take a look back at what we learned from working with our retailers over the years. Here are the top 5 tips you need to know when considering video chat for stores: 

 

1. It all starts with the network. Video chat is a powerful way to bring the in-store experience to customers online, but if the internet connection gets interrupted or becomes slow, it may leave the customer with a less-than-ideal impression of the brand. For this reason, it’s important to make sure your stores have consistent wifi and internet connectivity, and ensure your current network supports the bandwidth necessary for video chat. Experienced vendor partners should be able to provide minimum requirements to retailers, recommended settings and perform simple tests to establish current bandwidth levels. 

 

Pro Tips: 

 

  • The most common minimum bandwidth requirement for video chat is between 5-10mb/second download and 3-5mb/second upload.
  • What’s your network speed? Browse to fast.com to measure the speed of your store’s internet connection.

 

2. Customers are often camera shy. One of the main benefits of video chat is to be able to show customers products live, in real-time, at any angle. Your customers, on the other hand, may not be ready to be on camera. One of the things we learned when we developed our first video calling solution was that many customers initiate a video call to view products first-hand, but prefer to leave their cameras off. This flexibility is important for both the associate and the customer experience. Another thing to consider is that other customers in the store may not want to be on camera.

Retailers should make sure that it’s possible for both the customer and associate to turn off their camera without having to end the call. 

3. Video is one part of a larger clienteling strategy. Live chat and video chat are powerful tools, but they are often the tip of the iceberg in a much larger opportunity to engage customers during their shopping journey. Retailers quickly outgrow single purpose chat solutions and seek out larger feature sets to empower their stores. Additional communication channels like e-mail, SMS and social media provide more opportunities for associates to build one-to-one relationships with customers.

Customer Requests Breakdown by Type 

clienteling interaction stats


Other clienteling features like personalized lookbooks and intelligent recommendations with automated tasking are all important platform features that help associates drive their business and upsell based on transaction data. When selecting a solution partner for video or live chat, retailers should plan ahead and select solutions based on the ability to grow with your vendor to address more sophisticated use cases for your associates. 

 

4. Use the data captured from video calls to optimize communications: Capturing data from video chat and integrating it with your CRM platform is just as important as the data captured from other touchpoints. 

 

Select a solution that can show engagement increases after specific interactions on different channels, including video chat. This will enable your associates to adapt and optimize the way they engage with customers according to patterns of success from past calls.

 

Once the data from video chat is collected, AI is employed in clienteling solutions to identify products that were recommended during the video calls, and pinpoint products that are likely to be of higher interest to the customer. This data is used in clienteling to power the decisions on how the brand markets and promotes to the customer.

 

5. Train your associates to maximize their video calls: Training for store associates should include how to efficiently use video chat in stores to drive sales. For example,

  • Create simulated customer interactions to practice serving customers on video chat, identify the best ways to show products and ideal position to hold the mobile device, etc.)
  • Define a standard checklist that will ensure associates are always representing the brand in a consistent way (background, attire, how to answer the video chat, etc.)
  • List the areas of the store that have better (or no) connection so that associates know where to go and are never surprised with connectivity issues.
  • Explain when and how to follow up with a customer once a video chat ends.

Video chat presents an efficient communication channel for associates to provide one-to-one, personalized service, similar to how they would in store. Customers obtain a direct and immediate connection with a local store. This communication tool has become all the more valuable since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. By following the tips mentioned in this article, retailers will ensure a successful implementation of their video chat solution.

Relax The Back Redefines the Customer Journey

Relax The Back is a specialty health & wellness retailer with over 90 stores. Their clients have individual comfort needs and preferences according to their health. This means that store consultants sometimes spend hours with one customer to understand their needs and recommend the product that is best suited for them.

The retailer implemented Salesfloor to empower store consultants with tools to provide personalized service and build connections with clients from early on in their client journey- including the ones that begin online. This allowed them to:

  • Get to know clients on a one-to-one basis and create long-term relationships,
  • Improve client wellbeing with tailored advice and specialized products,
  • Nurture relationships and drive clients to the store.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Relax The Back saw 4x the number of visits to associate Storefront pages, 3x the amount of e-mails sent to clients and experienced a huge jump in office chair sales.

 

Salesfloor has also helped drive the following for Relax The Back:

  • In an average month, Relax The Back has seen between 250-350 online client requests via Salesfloor.
  • An average month typically has over 50 online visits per store consultant’s Storefront.
  • Sales increase when consultants connect with online shoppers: Relax The Back is seeing an additional $27 in in-store sales for every dollar of sales that occur online via Salesfloor.
  • Text messaging has become a popular communication channel for the clients and associates, with one out of three prefering to communicate this way.

 

Read the full story here.

4 Things Retailers Should Keep in Mind When Phasing into the New Normal

In light of the current pandemic, many retailers are being forced to take a more in-depth look into their operations and strategies as they prepare to reopen their stores.

The retail industry has been one of the most heavily affected industries, in both positive and negative ways. Although the grocery industry and e-commerce have been able to thrive in these specific conditions, others, such as brick and mortar retail businesses and live entertainment, are facing crippling financial situations as a result of pausing their operations. Many of these businesses are being forced to make tough decisions such as layoffs or closing their doors completely.

From sanitizing, changing their supply chain models, and reassessing what the likely consumer demand will be, to the overall customer experience, many aspects of the industry could look vastly different within the next few months of operations. The question many are asking, however, is what will the new normal look like, and how can retailers prepare for this?

 

Safety is likely to remain a top concern for shoppers

How stores prepare to make their in-store experiences as clean as possible will need to be a well thought out focal point of their reopening strategy. Many retailers such as Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Best Buy have already begun planning these changes.

A few things consumers can expect when visiting these stores are:

  • Fewer or no dressing rooms being open
  • Returned items being held in a sanitary space for an incubation period
  • More frequent sanitization of shelves, products, and doors
  • Fewer patrons being allowed in the store at a time
  • Increased usage of contactless payments
  • “No touch” beauty consultations and other services being suspended

Consumers will likely be more self-aware regarding their actions and hygiene during future public outings. Because of this, retailers must do their best to accommodate customer sanitation needs. This may require hiring an outside cleaning service, installing hand sanitizing stations, or limiting the number of customer interactions in a store.

 

Online sales will continue to thrive as social distancing practices are maintained

Fifty-eight million Americans reported spending more money during this time in a recent WalletHub survey. Consumers have been spending their money online when purchasing clothing, items for a newfound hobby, or ordering food for delivery.

Essential items such as food and cleaning supplies will likely continue to be top-selling products, even after brick and mortar retailers are given the green light to resume operations. However, it’s also likely that many will be ready to shop for other desires that they’ve been lacking during the last few months.

Because many won’t be rushing out to stores immediately, online sales can continue to be a substantial opportunity for retailers to capitalize on. Whether consumers wish to have their products shipped straight to their doors or decide on curbside pickup, online shopping offers an unparalleled level of convenience for today’s safety-conscious shopper. Consumers will be looking for ways to connect with brands in a personalized way, like being able to contact a local store associate to ask a specific product question or request an appointment (in store or virtual).

As these trends in e-commerce hold steady while consumers continue to social distance, retailers should advertise their online product offerings and services to broader target audiences who may desire their products. They should also focus on their current customer base and ensure associates are able to nurture one-to-one relationship with their clients.

 

The supply chain will be shaken up for the foreseeable future

During this period of isolation, we’ve seen a considerable shift in supply chain trends. Many stores have had trouble keeping certain products on shelves, and limited quantities of supplies have been available from vendors. This is due mainly to global supply chains being partially halted or completely shut down in various locations around the world.

Companies like Amazon have had to temporarily suspend shipments of non-essential items to consumers. This has forced many customers to wait several weeks to receive their packages, and has forced third-party services that would usually fulfill these orders to pause their operations. Additionally, we’re already being warned of disruptions to the food supply chain in the months ahead after outbreaks were confirmed in multiple poultry factories.

This change has caused many of the leading essential retailers to take an introspective look at their own supply chain during this time to find the most efficient means of continuing operations. Their redeveloped strategies could likely shape the future of their company.

Retailers will need to create a robust strategy that prevents disruptions within their own supply chain when planning to phase into operations. When making these preparations to resume, companies should lean on their supply chain systems to make accurate inventory calculations and updated, appropriate sales forecasts. Relying on current, nuanced data to make well-informed decisions can help companies continue to serve their consumers best.

 

Consumers will be loyal to brands who did “the right thing”

During these times, individuals have been finding creative ways to be kind to one another, showing signs of appreciation for friends and family and all of the essential front-line workers. These signs of encouragement and support are also affecting the way retailers are rethinking their brand sentiment.

Through advertising and community outreach, many brands are showing their commitment to overcoming the situation at hand with their customer’s safety in mind. Whether encouraging their customers to stay home and shop online or donating safety equipment and resources to those on the front lines, messages of positivity can go a long way.

A recent study shows that 6 in 10 consumers feel their view of certain brands has been changed by how they have reacted to this situation. More than half are pleased to hear about brands that are helping others or the community. Because of this, we might see individuals favoring certain brands during this time.

 

No matter what the future looks like for retailers, it’s likely that it won’t be the same as before. With changing consumer perspectives and priorities, the retail industry will be facing an entirely new landscape. The most important thing that retailers can do during this time is to consider all scenarios and make strategic decisions for how they will phase into this new normal.