Social Selling Done Easy

SocialShop provides associates with a way to share shoppable Instagram posts with their customers via their SocialShop feed, which makes it possible for customers to click and buy online and giving Associates credit for the sale.

Watch the video to see SocialShop in action:

For more information or to request a demo click here.

3 retail trends to watch out for in 2019 and beyond

When it comes to the modern customer experience, expectations simply do not stand still. The retail industry has undergone a significant transformation over the past decade, and it continues to morph. From greater convenience, to better value, more excitement, novelty, meaning, status, relevance, authenticity, and compelling social connection, forever evolving expectations are the driver of every change in retail we’re seeing today, and 2019 shows no sign of pause. Translation: retailers must take the proverbial bull by the horns to keep pace!

Here are 3 key retail trends to treat as golden opportunities in 2019 and beyond:

1. The multidirectional magic of mobile

It’s hardly news that mobile is king. But the power of mobile has now moved beyond customers simply visiting a well-designed, user-friendly online store from their phones. For example, pictures and videos viewed online can and should lead customers seamlessly to a waiting shopping cart. Additionally, many consumers expect to have retail experiences from their smartphone, tablet, smart speaker, laptop, desktop, or any other device they happen to possess. In-store, numerous magic points of sale are needed so customers can engage any way or place they want. By equipping your associates with the right digital tools and devices to satisfy this need meaningfully, your associates can succeed at knowing their customers, engaging them meaningfully, and ringing them in on the spot. Seamless transactions are sought after transactions.

2. Insta-personalization: the gravity of data

Fact: the presence or absence of data gives everything shape. Customers are beginning to expect their chosen retailers to make use of new forms of data—emotional data, eye tracking, and DNA, to name a few—in order to offer meaningful personalization that proves they really do know their fanbase. Take it from Knorr: they offer personalized recipes based on their customers’ Instagram feeds, and it’s a hit. Bottom line: having quick, efficient access to your clients’ search, purchase, browsing, and conversation history in order to deliver beautifully personal offers via email, text, and in-person is no longer simply a nice extra, but key. To achieve this, better direct-to-consumer apps with advanced omnichanneling capabilities are a practical requirement. The ability to connect customer data with direct-to-consumer features puts retailers at the forefront of customer experience creation. More and more, retailers will have to find ways of transitioning from customer experience (CX) to intimate experience (IX).

3. AI…but with humanity

Even though the US subscription e-commerce market has grown over 100% a year over the past 5 years, make no mistake: the backbone of retail is still personal, and anything but faceless. In fact, human is in, and likely here to stay. While it’s true that many consumers have no problem at all with the undeniable convenience that hyper-automation affords, they still want that personalized, human touch. So while it’s true that a rising number of consumers are becoming very comfortable outsourcing large portions of their retail decisions to AI and smart assistants, retailers should utilize customer context and location data to automate the purchasing process in whatever way will up engagement the best—by taking advantage of every opportunity to facilitate 1-on-1 interactions between customers and locally based associates. The slowly but surely emerging sweet spot is a combined approach. The best of both worlds, if you will: AI with a human touch. For instance, if an associate is equipped with the AI-obtained knowledge that a customer has purchased a pair of shoes and multiple dresses in the past, it becomes much easier to predict what they’re likely to buy in the future, and what type of offer will entice them. If an associate sees this data in a mobile app, they can use clienteling to make a well-informed recommendation to just the right person at the at just the right time. By providing your associates with access to the type of data that AI can capture, you are enabling them to make bigger, better, more informed recommendations, more quickly and relevantly than ever before. And that’s extremely good for business.

As frustrating as nonstop-morphing tech trends in retail can be at times, we happen to live in an age which represents more potentially golden opportunities than ever before. Led by advancements in digital channels, 2018 has been very kind to the US retail industry, with the market reporting growth every single month. So rather than viewing new and emerging trends as difficult challenges, try seeing them for what they really are: a forever expanding list of ways for your ROI to grow and flourish. Why not start by arming yourself with a powerful clienteling, digital shopping, and social engagement tool like Salesfloor?

Wishing you a happy and prosperous 2019!

Winning the Holidays 2018: Essential Tips For Retailers

Thanksgiving boasts many bells and whistles all on its own, but retailers know that the real event trails closely behind turkey day. If you haven’t yet devised a plan for your store, it’s not too late to take advantage of the incredible opportunity that the holiday shopping season offers your business, starting with Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM). This year, Black Friday e-commerce alone is projected to increase by 15.31% year-over-year to $5.80 billion. To put that into perspective, later this month, Black Friday is poised to kick off a shopping season responsible for 30% of all sales for the entire year.

Here are a few tips to help you make the very most of the shopping madness that famously characterizes the holiday shopping season.

First, have an e-commerce strategy that includes something similar to what Blenders Eyewear did last year. FYI, they multiplied their Black Friday e-commerce sales and holiday revenue by 10, and are expected to quadruple it this year:

  • Create hype around the “count down” by campaigning with ads and social media posts. Empower your associates to connect with new and repeat customers to promote holiday sales via email & text. Harness the relationships your associates have built with customers to get them back into your store. Go one step further by taking up space in the physical world via in-store signage, flyers, etc.
  • Consider offering pre holiday deals and specials in the lead up to Christmas, as well as post holiday boxing week sales. This is a great way to clear out old stock while simultaneously creating an enduring buzz.
  • Leak sneak peaks at enticing deals that will be offered throughout the course of the holiday shopping season in order to foster a sense of urgency and instill shoppers with an understanding of your “limited time best offer.” Make it all about the attractive offer.
  • Extend your promo strategy across websites and into social influencer territory if possible, in order to maximize sales.
  • Spread the word on holiday deals for last-minute shoppers, emphasizing any shipping and gift wrapping services that really up the convenience factor for would-be customers.

Second, deliver an extra dose of customer service excellence both on and offline:

  • Get your store in tiptop shape. The better it looks and the easier it is to navigate, the more likely it is to entice walk-ins on the day of, and the longer keep people will stay and browse for deals, whether they walked in off the street or had words with an associate online beforehand. Organize your stock, and clearly delineate what’s on sale with clear, visually stimulating signage.
  • Make sure your in-store associates are ready for this busiest of times. They should be very accessible to customers, and offer quick, informed, courteous responses, even if a customer is a rude, impatient, or frustrating personality—not uncommon during holiday sales frenzies.
  • Set yourself apart from your competitors by ensuring your associates are available and present online to respond to customer questions in real time as they surf and search special holiday deals on your website. The human touch works in your favor, keeping customers on your site, satisfying any unique requests they may have, and ultimately going a long way toward securing the sale.
  • Be sure your associates are capable of taking advantage of omnichannel clienteling to quickly gain insight on repeat customers and use it to personalize the shopping experience, thus creating a one-on-one feel, even amid your highly trafficked holiday sale.
  • Test your website to be sure it can handle the upsurge in traffic that is likely with large, frequented holiday sales.

The bottom line is that while big sales require big promo, the big pay-off extends far beyond the scope of the sale, and even beyond the scope of the holiday season. When done right, your holiday buzz will serve to raise your store’s profile, both on and offline, creating a long-term stir around your brand that will survive so long as you keep up with CX-focused, associate-driven, omnichannel strategies. So beyond trying to simply capture a share of sales in the weeks before Christmas, for example, create and advertise in this way for every major shopping event of the year using the above tactics. You and your team of associates can learn so much from these busiest of shopping days, which can in turn help boost ROI year-round.

7 best practices retailers should use to implement new tech for stores

About to take the leap and launch new technology in your stores? Avoid the common mistakes made by many retailers before and after the implementation of a new system takes place. Get it right the first time and align the feedback, goals and requirements of your staff with the best interests of your business. Past best practices for implementing technology are no longer adequate in the face of the cross functional and omnichannel impact that many systems have as their driving force today. As more digital tools fall into the hands of stores and associates, successful retailers will approach system implementation in a whole new way.

 

Here are our 7 recommended best practices:

    1. Clearly defined business requirements and goals.

New technology rollouts often lack in the communication department. The importance of clearly defining the goals and parameters of the project cannot be overstated, and neither can making sure your whole team is aligned with them. The key here is to do it collectively, seeking input and suggestions from every level of staff, especially from those engaging directly with the new technology. Hammer out what a successful project looks like with clear measures of success. The clearer your goals, the easier it will be to measure progress down the line.

 

    2. A project owner and project support.

If your associates need questions answered or features explained (they will), the best response is providing them with a positive user experience. Having a project owner and clearly defined, accessible project support is key. If your project has ties to an outside vendor, leaning on said vendor for this support can be very helpful.

 

    3. Maintain high level of engagement after training.

In the days or weeks following the implementation of a new project, block off enough time to sit down with all users and managers and answer their questions—either one-on-one or in groups. Tip: training your middle managers to train others will reduce the volume of questions headed your way.

 

    4. Meaningful incentives.

It’s important that end users who are being introduced to anything new understand what is “in it” for them. Although a well executed communication plan should address core program benefits, it’s important that business requirements and goals align with incentives for the end user. For example, will the tool drive more sales? Will it facilitate communication with customers?

 

    5. Test the tech with people (but the right people).

Many companies test the technical setup and network configurations but forget to test the impact on human beings in real life. Test it all: the messaging, the training, the communication, and the support systems. Start with a small but diverse test group made up of the most implicated departments or groups with the most to gain. Choose participants that are open to the idea of new tools. It’s always easier to establish the adoption of something new with a group of enthusiastic participants.

 

    6. Create a continuous feedback loop with end users and stakeholders.

There’s a tendency for management to view a program as successful if adoption is high. But it is not the only measure of success (see point #1 about goal setting), so it is critical for managers and end users to celebrate wins and share opportunities for improvement throughout the initial phase of any new project. And managers should ensure end users have ongoing opportunities to share feedback and insights through recurring touchpoints, conference calls, and open forums.

 

    7. Choose the right technology and partner.

Your company needs to establish whether your new tech is an internal capability or driven by an outside partner. Don’t forget that external vendors typically have experience and best practices associated with competitors and other industries which they can leverage to your advantage. If speeding to market is a priority, it’s important to consider that some technology may take months or even years to fully implement, whereas others may be designed for more rapid deployment. Make sure you know what you are getting into before making a decision.


Stores are a unique environment that require a high level of anticipation and planning when it comes to the success of new projects. Whatever project you’re planning for your store’s future, it’s important that stakeholders at every level adopt the best practices listed above for meaningful results! Whether you are focused on setting goals or creating incentives for your new project, continuously aligning your stakeholders throughout the process is critical to its success. Think of transparency across all of these practices as the fundamental that will help internal stakeholders and external partners work well together in the knowledge that they are aligned toward a common vision for success.

3 customer journeys retailers need to understand

As the variety of touchpoints in the retail world continue to grow in number, (social, email, websites, etc.), the customer journey as well continues to grow into an increasingly  omnichannel experience.

Creating truly effective omnichannel customer journeys can be a challenge, but a worthwhile one: research predicts that by 2020, customer experience will outdo both price and product as the main factor in customer decision-making. Tellingly, Dimension Data’s 2017 Global Customer Experience (CX) Benchmarking Report found 71% of organizations cited customer experience as a competitive differentiator, but just 13% of brands self-rated their CX delivery a 9 out of 10 or higher.

 

Customer journey mapping

Customer journey mapping can be a really helpful tool for those looking to up their game in the omnichannel sense. Thinking of it as storytelling can be useful. The chapters of your story might include: your client walk-by window shopping;  your client searching online for a particular product; their in-store experience; their review process; and even their promotion of your company to other would-be buyers. Evaluate the level of service you provide at each touchpoint: in-store, on your site, the quality of business cards, your email follow-ups, etc., and how your buyer may feel about each. The buyer’s journey can take many directions. Consider the following 3 customer “stories”:

 

1. The undecided in-store shopper

A customer is lured into your store by the punchy window display (well-done). She tries on a blouse but leaves without buying, just as 70% of customers do. To address this gap, an associate follows up via email to thank her for visiting, attaching an easily clickable version of the blouse at the same time. Or—maybe the customer leaves the store with a business card that has the store’s url on it. Either, way, the service and the relationship are extended beyond the store, and the customer is able to conveniently continue her experience, transitioning from brick and mortar to online seamlessly. The customer then purchases directly via your website and leaves a glowing Google review after the fact, citing the helpful but not pushy service she received. It’s very much worth comparing your online conversion rates before and after connecting your associates online to measure your success. Salesfloor‘s embedded online tool (which customers can use to connect with associates based on location) has increased leading retailers’ conversion rate 10x, and contributed to an 18% rise in new customer acquisition. By maintaining a relationship with the undecided customer, associates can hold onto sales even when a customer doesn’t return in person. It also discourages continued research at another store.

 

2. The anonymous online shopper

A customer hates calling stores and being put on hold. He browses your website and has a question about the “feel” of a product. Pleasantly surprised at the fact that he can easily chat online with an associate, the customer appreciates having the option to schedule a meeting in-store. Being able to ask questions and get answers from a human being versus a bot drives traffic to your store and helps drive online conversions. Let’s face it: in today’s world the average shopper browses online before even thinking about going into a store. There is an opportunity to capture these shoppers directly on your website and start facilitating a relationship between your customers and associates, ultimately drawing them back into your store. Providing next-level online services like these also makes it a lot easier to collect customers’ email addresses and further build your resources.

 

3. The omnichannel customer

One of your associates has built up a long-term rapport with a customer, and receives a notification that he has not purchased in 30 days. Your associate then consults the customer profile, trending recommendations, and the customer’s online purchase history before checking in with him via email and recommending a product that might complement his last purchase. National retail emails have an average open rate of just 20%, yet email still remains the strongest digital channel when it comes to ROI, generating a solid $38 for every $1 spent. Given that associates’ online sales can represent 10% of all your online business, harnessing email’s potential can go a long way. Providing your associates with automated tasks based on customers’ purchase history along with the accompanying personalized recommendations can go a long way toward creating scalable clienteling strategies that just weren’t possible before.

No matter what your customer’s journey, one thing is for sure: the key to success lies in providing your associates with the tools to be better influencers—each and every step of the way. Part of that is allowing your associates to omnipresent in as many channels as they can access, and another part is providing them with the technology to do so. Why not make everybody happy, just because you can? After all, the customer journey is your ultimate destination.

Associate Enablement done right: Best Buy, Warby Parker & Saks Fifth Avenue

Many retailers these days are looking for ways to improve their customer experience with mobile technologies like AI, AR/VR, and more—all with the goal of improving CX. But while learning and applying the right technologies is key, retailers should not underestimate the impact that associates have on the future of CX.

Most in-store conversion rates are in the vicinity of 30-40%, while increasing web traffic is still only converting at 1-2%. This presents a huge opportunity to enable associates and drive traffic and sales online at much higher rates. To make this happen, associates need to be trained, equipped with the right technology, and trusted to serve both online and in-store shoppers without a hitch. This article explores 3 great examples of retailers who are getting associate enablement refreshingly right in 2018.

 

1. Best Buy

At the recent Future Stores Miami conference, two Best Buy executives described their efforts to invest more in their associates over the last three and a half years: by investing in support for customer and product interaction, they have reshaped employee training. What does this involve exactly? Well, conducting one-on-one interviews with employees across the country to glean information on application and technology usability problems, and other challenges of the job–for starters, according to Timothy Embretson, Best Buy’s director of retail user experience.

Rather than using the previous “clunky, corporate technology” that Shari Rossow, VP of retail operations at Best Buy says “felt more like bricks than tablets,” the company has now taken the plunge and invested in devices employees are already familiar with. “Do you need to train them at all if they’re using applications that they use in their everyday life?” asks Rossow. These efforts have helped drop employee turnover by “well into the double digits,” according to Embretson. “Through redesigning systems and bringing new technology into the stores, we’ve been able to cut our POS transaction time in half. We’ve been able to cut training for that system in half as well.” As Best Buy works to improve associate engagement, highly knowledgeable and friendly customer service is likely to continue to serve as the company’s hottest selling point.

 

2. Warby Parker

Warby Parker, the distinctive eyewear company started eight years ago by four Wharton B-school students, is enabling associate engagement by equipping employees with the right technology, giving them the right training, and equipping with the right tools to compel effective interactions with customers. In short. Warby Parker sales associates are highly effective at making a sale and doing other integral marketing and sales-related activities–like collecting email addresses, for example–without seeming at all unnatural.

Perhaps the most important use of technology at Warby Parker is streamlining the transaction process by equipping each employee with handy customer-visible devices: every sales associate not only carries a tablet but is also highly adept at using it as a POS (point of sale) device. Being rung up for a sale in this way is so casual for the customer that it fails to break the enchantment of the customer experience. That’s huge. Add to all this the fact that Warby Parker sales associates are carefully selected for their ability to be engaging and genuinely warm, their skill at matching customer pacing, and their incredible attention to detail, and you get a truly winning combination!

 

3. Saks Fifth Avenue

The fact that most retailers have in-store conversion rates of 30-40% means that the majority of customers leave without making a purchase. Companies like Saks Fifth Avenue are personalizing the online shopping experience with the human touch by offering consumers a single point of contact through a mobile app designed for store associates, Salesfloor, which enables in-store associates to recommend and sell products to their clients. The app empowers associates to connect with shoppers across the omnichannel universe: mobile, web, in-store. While a customer may spend significant time in-store trying on a little red dress she loves, while leaving still undecided, an associate can send a friendly follow-up “great seeing you” email which integrates the clickable version of that same red dress. The customer now has a way to continue her in-store experience online with the associate she interacted with in-store! If the customer chooses to buy the cute little number online after the fact, the associate is still rewarded with a commission—further incentivizing her to keep in touch with her customers—both new and repeat ones alike—by way of follow-ups, new promotions, and collections.

On the other end, customers browsing Saks Fifth Avenue online can connect with a live associate present in their local store; a pop-up appears on the site prompting customers to chat live, email, or request an appointment with a local associate. If a customer has a question about a product, they can get answers right away from a real, live, local store associate. The customer can then make a purchase right away, or they can pay the store a visit and finish the transaction in person. It’s a winning combo either way, and a highly streamlined one: the customer gets quality recommendations from a savvy associate, who in turn earns commission regardless of whether the order is placed online or in-store: all-around great incentive.

By leveraging and embracing best practices, you enable your associates to deliver meaningful experiences to today’s ominchannel customer. Customer experience is only as strong as associate engagement, after all. Expand your customer service into the mobile world with a retail app that works to bridge the gap.


ABOUT SALESFLOOR

Salesfloor is on a mission to unlock the power of today’s omnichannel sales associate by connecting them with shoppers online and in-store. We believe that associates are product experts, trusted advisors and social influencers for customers in their local communities. In today’s omnichannel world, retail chains have a unique opportunity to leverage their biggest competitive asset: their people.

Learn all about how this works here.

How Retailers are Using Video to Increase Sales

Videos, and the immediate distribution of them through the internet has profoundly changed the way we live…and shop. We’re relying more and more on using video to help us discover and compare products we are looking to buy and retailers know it.

Traditionally, the merits of video were merely practical: it helps boost your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), helps your brand establish trust, and increases discovery to your site if you have a video people love to share. But there is so much more to video. Video still does all of that, very well, but it can be worth much more to your brand.

Retailers who adopt video are finding amazing ways to connect with customers or potential customers, and seeing existing customers’ average order value rise. In a recent survey, 57% of retailers said video is responsible for increased spend from the average customer.

So, how are winning retailers using video? Here are some great examples:

They’re engaging fans of their brand regularly

A clever campaign by JCrew on Instagram Stories

Retailers who are hesitant to deploy video should understand that more video means higher order values. A study found a startling 69.49% increase in order value the more videos a retailer deployed.

J Crew is a company that is using video very effectively. On their Instagram, they regularly post videos. Some videos are explanatory (like “How to Wear Denim on Denim”) while others are aspirational, but all of them serve a purpose: to draw Instagram followers in and entice them to make a purchase. Instagram Stories, a collection of pictures and video can help set the mood for customers looking to buy a new jacket and get them to purchase after seeing a 30-second clip. What’s more, Instagram stories expire in 24 hours, so J Crew has deployed them for sale announcements to drive excitement.

J Crew can also post a video of a new product and get immediate customer feedback. This can help them tailor future product lines based on verbatim criticism or praise.

They’re demonstrating products to bring the in-store experience home

A playable electric guitar shirt is much more interesting with video, no?

Photographs of products offer a limited amount of information about an item because there is little context. A video is an excellent way to show how large an ottoman is in relation to a child, a dog, or an average sized couch. Video can show you how a dress pattern moves or how long the hem REALLY is on a dress, where a photo simply cannot provide this kind of detail. Video can also show how easy it is to use a product (think Apple’s demo videos for everything from iPhones to their Airport Wireless Routers) or how a product can be useful. This is important for items that can’t be experienced in real time online. It helps bridge the experience of trying on an item to the immediacy of looking up a product online.

They’re showing customers how to use their products better

Instant Pot is the home appliance equivalent to a viral video thanks to their creative recipes

How do you explain how to use a brand new product with a learning curve over the internet? Video. That’s how holiday 2017 sensation Instant Pot was able to quickly ramp up their business, by simply showing how to use their category-busting product. Since there are some safety procedures and an interface to learn, Instant Pot knew that by making videos about how to make the most popular and easy to cook dishes, they could lower the barrier of entry.

They also have more advanced videos on their site to explain to intermediate and advanced users how to get the most out of their Instant Pot. It’s working. The Instant Pot is not only wildly popular, it has inspired dozens of knockoffs from major kitchen appliance companies.

They’re creating shareable experiences

This is a fun execution of video and experience!

Can you convert your fandom into walk-in traffic to your store? Give them something to talk (or snap) about. Recently, Eddie Bauer launched Cold Rooms in some of its retail locations to allow consumers to test out the efficacy of their cold weather gear. The Cold Rooms are designed to look like Ski Chalets and even have ice sculptures inside. Why? So visitors will share their video #Experience on their own social media, thus encouraging others to do the same, and raise awareness of this new way to shop.

They’re making themselves indispensable with advice

The Home Depot has a how-to for everything…including the kitchen sink!

Can you get someone to buy something they didn’t even think they needed? Ask The Home Depot. They have hundreds of videos showing how easy it is to change the hardware on a bathtub, or install a baseboard, for example. Home Depot understands that people don’t just need to be walked through the steps, they might actually need to know what products they’ll need to complete a project.  Seeing objects in context and in use is crucial to convert shoppers who are unclear about a product’s worth or how to use it.  Showing customers the complete project allows them to get fully equipped and retailers to sell more items, increasing cart size per visit.

Video might seem like a big undertaking for your company, but there are so many advantages that it’s worth your investment. There are so many ways it can be applied to draw in shoppers, and so many advantages to trying out a video campaign, you might want to try to start out small. Even a few videos highlighting a sale, your staff, or a special event can help you connect with and build an audience.

Once you build out a video plan and commit to creating regular videos, you could see boosts that retailers who have mastered video are already enjoying. Are there other examples you can think of? Please let us know in the comments below.

 

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ABOUT SALESFLOOR

Salesfloor is on a mission to unlock the power of today’s omnichannel sales associate by connecting them with shoppers online and in-store. We believe that associates are product experts, trusted advisors and social influencers for customers in their local communities. In today’s omnichannel world, retail chains have a unique opportunity to leverage their biggest competitive asset: their people.

 

Learn all about how this works here.

The Evolving Customer

The Evolving Customer

Watch “The Evolving Customer” webinar moderated by Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, Retail Minded’s Publisher. Hear from Salesfloor’s CEO, Oscar Sachs who discusses Salesfloor’s latest study findings. The study uncovers how today’s customers want to communicate with sales associates, what information they communicate to customers effectively, and where retailers are missing opportunities to create connections with customers.