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.

5 Clienteling Strategies to Prepare for Slower Store Traffic Post COVID-19

Store closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic encouraged consumers to turn to e-commerce more than they ever have before. But some habits are here to stay: even after the crisis is over, 60% of consumers expect to shop online more frequently compared to before the outbreak. A recent study in the U.S. also revealed that 50% of respondents either do not feel comfortable or are uncertain about shopping in a mall in the next 6 months.

Traffic in stores may never be the same as it used to be. In fact, in China, we’ve already seen that consumers are wary of returning to stores because of safety concerns. With the sudden growth in customers relying on e-commerce, it is now more important than ever to be able to assist customers as they research and buy online.

The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating the inevitable digital disruption of commerce. Commerce will emerge from the pandemic a vibrant and critical part of consumer life.” Jason Goldberg, Forbes Contributor.


Online Interactions = Opportunities to Capture Website Leads

With customers spending less time in store and more time online, there will be more opportunities to capture website visitors, especially new customers, while they are searching for and purchasing products. Retailers using Salesfloor have seen 3x the number of incoming requests from customers compared to before the crisis and experienced a jump of up to 310% in online interactions.

Companies like Saks have seen an increase of 3x in incoming requests during the crisis. Store closures have not stopped their store associates from communicating with customers on a personalized level, either. Their associates have been sending on average 4x the number of e-mails in order to stay in touch with customers who are not currently going to stores.

Retailer’s websites should allow online shoppers to create requests for service or ask questions directly to an in-store associate. Salesfloor gives shoppers the ability to do so via live chat, e-mail, or text messaging- whatever their preferred channel might be. The requests are routed to local stores and put customers directly in touch with their local associate. Right now, the average associate using Salesfloor is interacting online with 94 customers per week and achieving a 12% to 15% conversion rate.


The Role of Store Employees are Evolving Out of Necessity

When malls reopen, the roles of store employees will evolve, and the reality of the store experience will be different. Retailers will need to be well equipped for this change and give associate tools to serve online customers. What’s more, the digital experience doesn’t lead to impulse buys or new product trials like in-store experiences do.  And while traditional Marketing communications are effective, they are a one-way communication.

Recreating the in-store experience online will require facilitating a personal connection between store associates and their customers- beyond the store. Clienteling tools empower associates to initiate conversations, follow up, cross-sell and recommend items in a personalized way to online shoppers via e-mail, SMS, or live chat. This is already playing a large role in nurturing relationships in a scalable way to increase online sales. Store associates who use the Salesfloor platform have been driving up to 9x the sales compared to before the crisis.

Relax The Back, a specialty health & wellness retailer, rolled out Salesfloor to additional associates (called consultants) once stores started closing. They’ve seen that even for specialized products, consumers are willing to make those purchases online when they have direct communication with a knowledgeable store consultant. Their VP of Marketing, Leanne Mattes, stated: “We’ve actually seen a huge jump in office chair sales as more people are working from home.” During this period Relax The Back also saw 4x the amount of Storefront page visits.

Appointment & Event Booking

A recent article in the Sourcing Journal stated that the “process of reopening retail must be methodical, organized and gradual.” It claims that appointment booking will be a key strategy in reopening non-essential stores to help retailers manage traffic and prevent overcrowding at the entrance. This would be a safer alternative to the long lineups that essential retailers are currently experiencing. In China, stores imposed limits on the number of customers who can enter at once. This makes assisted selling apps, which allow appointments and events to be created by both customer and associate, essential for the reopening of stores.


As Always, Personalization Prevails

Many non-essential retailers, who have been experiencing a decrease in sales during the pandemic, have been announcing discounts and sales to attempt to counter the sales lost. Consumers’ inboxes are currently filled with e-mail blasts promoting these sales. Personalization is key to avoid contributing to the white noise currently their inboxes.

Customers will be more prone to open a communication from a store associate they know and have exchanged with in the past. Therefore, retailers will need to introduce customers to the convenience of shopping online with their brand and, more specifically, with their local stores. They should leverage relationships that have been built in store to deliver true personalization online and keep customers engaged with their brand.

Buybuy BABY, one of the most popular destinations for baby registry services in North America, is an example of a retailer that has continued to engage with new and expecting parents via Salesfloor’s online Clienteling channels. Their Product Experts have seen both sales and conversion rates double during COVID-19.

Buy Online, Pick Up In Store (BOPIS) Is a Win-Win for Customer and Retailer

BOPIS orders (which includes curbside pickup) have jumped 62% year-over-year between February 24 and March 21, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index. As the option is increasingly adopted by more retailers, it could easily become a fulfillment staple as the coronavirus curve flattens. With curbside pickup, customers obtain their order (often more quickly than with shipment to home) without having to enter any crowded store.

BOPIS capabilities will be a competitive advantage for retailers post COVID-10. This is especially true for retailers that enable store associates to access orders assigned to their store directly on their mobile device, allowing them to fulfill orders during downtime.


COVID-19 has accelerated the transition to e-commerce and online interactions. When stores reopen, traffic still won’t be as high as it used to be. Retailers who start preparing themselves now with digital clienteling tools can optimize their business operations, drive online sales and increase customer loyalty.

3 Ways Technology Is Currently Benefiting Retailers

With the global situation at hand, many retailers are being forced to find innovative solutions to unique issues they may have never experienced. From learning to manage a fully remote workforce and handling customer concerns to adjusting to fluctuations in the supply chain, businesses must find ways to adapt.

With the emergence of technology over the years, businesses have more options to rely on during this time to help operations run smoothly. Learning which technology is the best option may be one of the biggest challenges of adapting to new solutions. Still, many businesses can find great value in utilizing technology to its full extent at this time.

Here are three ways that technology is benefiting retailers during the current global situation.


Connecting with Remote Employees


With several businesses opting to go fully remote for the time being, managers have to think more creatively to solve the issues that come with this shift in the work environment. For some organizations, this may require more procedures, technology, and guidelines to be put into place. These steps are essential to keep your business functioning at full productivity.

While ensuring that projects are completed by set deadlines, and meeting customer demands are of high importance, it’s equally as crucial that employees feel they are being supported as much as possible during this transition. Using the right tools can help to keep all employees communicating effectively and preserve the culture of the company.

The proper technology can help increase employee engagement and workforce productivity by ensuring that your organization has a central access hub for retrieving any information or managing communications as needed. Additionally, reliable video conferencing and messaging tools are necessary for staying in touch with employees and checking in on both their work performance and mental wellbeing.

During this time, companies should consider being, to a certain extent, overly communicative, but also remember the importance of informal dialogue as well. It’s easy for employees to feel overwhelmed or anxious from this transition, so regular check-ups can help keep morale in check. Be patient as your team deals with new challenges.


Maintaining Customer Engagement


Though there may be fewer consumers shopping in brick-and-mortar stores right now, consumers are turning to online retailers to fulfill their needs. For some companies, this could be a new and unfamiliar way of conducting business that could prove to be challenging.

Businesses that are using clienteling technology can better connect their store associates (many of whom are now working from home) to online customers. With this system in place, customers submit requests to their local store associates via live chat, e-mail, SMS, and associate storefronts. Associates continue to serve and sell to online customers, answering questions and addressing their needs via these channels. This increases the number of incoming online leads for retailers, which in turn increases demand. Associates are also able to create and send personalized communications to online shoppers, helping to ensure a faster turnaround time on sales for retailers. Furthermore, customers can also request virtual appointments with associates, either online or over the phone.

Having technology of this caliber at hand can help retailers find some relief during this time and help them meet increasing demands and solve any issues consumers may be facing.


Managing Supply Chain Fluctuations


We’ve seen many changes in the supply chain due to halts in production and international border closings. This has caused a variety of issues for businesses in varying sectors, such as production slowdowns, a reduction in workforce, increases in demand, and international trade barriers.

Technology such as inventory management software and warehouse automation tools could prove to be extremely valuable during this period. Knowing what the forecasted demands are projected to look like, and if you’ll be able to garner enough supply to meet those demands, is critical at this moment. This technology has the potential of pointing retailers in the right direction to create a well-rounded strategy.

These technologies can also help warehouses and manufacturers stay afloat with a reduced workforce. It’s almost impossible to plan for something like this but having the proper frameworks and technology in place can help.

No matter what technology you chose to rely on during this time, it’s important to work as a team and unify your resources to adapt and prosper through the future.

Store Associates Can Sell from Home During COVID-19 Using Clienteling

As COVID-19 continues to impact the retail industry, our team at Salesfloor has been working closely with our retail partners to help continue to serve their customers online. We believe clienteling can help play an important role for retailers and store associates at this time. That is why we are now offering free licenses to help retailers cope with COVID-19 challenges by leveraging store associates to maximize online sales.

Slow Store Traffic

For retailers whose stores that are still open, some associates are able to work but foot traffic is at all-time lows. However, they are keeping busy by answering incoming online requests, sending personalized e-mails with product pictures and recommendations to their customers, and maintaining their Storefronts.


 “Although we have seen reduced in-store traffic, our store consultants have been keeping busy by reaching out to clients to help them set up their home offices, now that so many consumers are working from home. In fact, we have seen a significant increase in office chair sales. We’re so glad to be able to continue serving our clients online.” – Leanne Mattes, VP Marketing, Relax the Back

Associates Working from Home

Most retailers have closed their stores and instructed associates to work remotely and in the worst cases, associate payroll cannot be supported.

While stores and malls are shutting down, e-commerce is still up and running. One way retailers are facing this challenge is by equipping their associates to serve customers as they shop online. Online customers are getting served by product experts who can make tailored recommendations, and associates earn credit for resulting e-commerce sales. It’s a win-win situation for customer and associate.

Quick Fact: In the week following the first wave of retail store closures, customer requests across all Salesfloor retailers increased by an average of 47%.

live chat

How it Works

Using Clienteling to connect with customers via live chat, email and text messaging makes it possible for store associates to drive sales and serve customers with an authentic, human approach (similar to what you’d expect in store).

Online customers connect to real-life associates (working in-store or remote) via live chat, e-mail, text messages and virtual appointment requests. They can shop live with associates on Associate Storefronts, where they highlight their favorite items and comment on different products.

Quick Fact: Our retailers have seen up to an 89% increase in online weekly sales resulting from digital interaction since stores started shutting down.


Giving Associates Remote Access is Easy

Store Associates working from home can download the Salesfloor app from the AppStore or Play Store. Retailers need only make the app available for remote work and maintain a high level of security and restricted access. To make the transition easy for associates, Salesfloor provides access to support as well as enhanced training to all users.

Quick Fact: Luxury brands using Salesfloor have seen a 2x increase in clienteling interactions after stores closed due to the pandemic.

It’s About Clienteling, Not Just Marketing

Marketing newsletters are effective, but they are a one-way communication. With clienteling tools, store associates are equipped to connect directly with customers and engage in 1-to-1 conversations. To help associates know who to reach out to and when, retailers can upload marketing assets and create smart tasks to identify personalized selling opportunities.

Quick Fact: This month, messages sent and open rates have increased by 55%.


Virtual Associates: An Alternative for Furloughed Associates

Retailers are transitioning to a community of sellers who work virtually using the Salesfloor platform. Existing employees are transitioned to Independent contractors compensated with affiliate fees. As Virtual Associates drive their own sales online, Salesfloor tracks the sales and pays compensation on behalf of the retailer. This allows retailers to continue selling online, provides furloughed associates with a continued source of income, and helps support employee retention beyond the current crisis


How Quickly Can You Get Started?

We can get you started within 30 days to help you begin serving online customers as quickly as possible, either with our clienteling platform or our Virtual Associates program. What’s more, we’re waiving the license fees to help retailers during these unprecedented times. Contact us to get started.

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: 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, retail audits, 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.