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.
Salesfloor participated in a panel discussion with Chico’s FAS on the store associate of the future at NRF. Cutting-edge tactics that their stores are using to serve customers and drive sales were reviewed. Watch the video to see the session!
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.
Salesfloor won it all at the Salesforce Commerce Cloud #DemoJam! With only 3 minutes to pitch our product, we went up against the likes of Dynamic Yield, PerimeterX, Amplience, and battled it out for the Demo Jam crown. Congrats to all for their great demos! Watch the video to see our demo!
Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about Salesfloor.
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.
The holiday season is upon us, and the frenzied shoppers are already busting down the doors. With December quickly approaching, it will only get crazier. Retailers know that this means it’s time to brace themselves and their stores for the rush of holiday shoppers. Bracing yourself means that you need to have enough associates on the floor to handle the volume increase. And though this sounds simple enough, you may find yourself asking the same question every year:
“How do I find good seasonal sales associates and get them trained quickly?”
In this article, we’ll look at the best tips and tricks for bringing the much needed extra manpower on board for the holidays and how to prepare them for their new roles in the bustling months ahead.
So you need to hire, but where do find the right talent? The good news is that there are a number of options available to you. They key is to make sure you get in front of the right people in order to streamline the process.
Student job boards: Students make for great seasonal associates for two reasons: they are always eager to earn extra money, and the temporary status of the work suits their schedules. You can target student job boards in programs that are relevant to your business as well. Fashion retailers can target fashion students. Book retailers can target literature students. They can bring their new knowledge to enhancing their position.
Online platforms: If you want a broader reach, consider posting on online platforms like Indeed.com and ZipRecruiter, where your post will be found by keen job seekers looking for seasonal work. Also consider doing an online search for your local temp agency where you can find those looking and available for short-term work.
Social media: Social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have fantastic targeting algorithms that allow you to get in front of people within interests in your area and people familiar with your brand. This means that you’ll be connecting with the people who are already knowledgeable about your company and industry. Finding new hires this way could reduce the time it takes to familiarize them with your products and how your store operates.
Referral bonus: Consider giving your current employees a little extra compensation for referring somebody they know who is looking for a job. Your employees will be more inclined if something is in it for them, and your hiring decision can be better informed, coming from somebody you already know and trust. This could add an extra bonus: friends of your employees would have a personal mentor as they are coming on board.
Virtual reps: Have you considered a virtual representative? At Salesfloor, we are piloting a virtual associate program that can help boost your online sales with a personalized storefront and virtual seasonal reps. With more and more people shopping online (or at least doing their research ahead of time), beefing up virtual reps could be a great way to scale your staff 24/7!
Finding and hiring your seasonal sales associates is only half the battle. The other half is getting them ready to hit the floor and service your customers quickly and efficiently. There are a few surefire ways speed up this process.
After-hours training: Consider bringing in your new hires after-hours for a couple intensive training sessions without the distractions of customers and other employees. Week-long training sessions can be time-consuming and slow.
Buddy system: Sometimes the best way to learn is by jumping in head first. Pair up new employees with your preferred veteran staff for a busy hands-on learning experience on the floor with someone who you trust to show your new hires the way.
Instructional content: Above all, make sure you’re providing new employees with the best tools to succeed and remember to supplement your training regimen with learning materials like videos and binders covering common questions, problems, and troubleshooting. Ensure that they have this at their disposal, and will continue to self-train beyond regular training sessions.
Salesfloor can also help make training easier with our mobile associate app. Using Salesfloor’s Omnichannel Clienteling module gives the seasonal sales associates access to a comprehensive view of their customer’s profile, purchase history and shopping preferences for both online and in-store transactions. This makes it easier and quicker for seasonal associates to develop a relationship and recommend products based on past purchases and omnichannel customer profile and all of this information is in one place.
We know that the holiday season is a balancing act of increasing both service and efficiency, but with the right know-how you can stay ahead of the crowd – and plan for it.
Happy holidays and we wish you an enormously successful season!
Every day, there seem to be more announcements that retailers are in trouble or closing. Certainly, there are multiple reasons why retailers fail, but there are a few common themes to the current closures that we can all learn from. Understanding the needs and habits of today’s consumer, we cover some ways to avoid joining the growing list of retailers affected by the retail apocalypse.
1. Make service a priority
Most interactions in retail stores are about servicing customers, and it’s important to recreate that experience online. That’s why all apocalypse-thriving retailers have web features that bridge the online and offline service gap that plagues other lagging brands.
Rent the Runway, an NYC-based luxury label rental store, has increased business by 100 percent since opening their first store by amping up their online service to the quality of that in-store. Online, customers can purchase rentals or even request items to be delivered within three hours for a nominal delivery fee. Rent the Runway also makes their reputable fashion and fitting consultants accessible to customers online via their “Dedicated Unlimited Concierge Team” service subscription.
Similar digital service features are also being successfully used by high-end brands such as Harry Rosen to connect customers to in-store sales associates. In fact, after integrating customer engagement banners into webstores, service requests went up 50 percent on average.
2. Be data-centric
Personal data is the key to understanding the preferences and purchasing patterns of shoppers, and it’s been beauty giant Sephora’s secret weapon in becoming retail apocalypse-proof.
Sephora uses customer data to construct highly personalized marketing campaigns, offers, and adverts to convince casual browsers to check-out online and in-store. The insights gained from their online shoppers and VIB loyalty program have helped them become the number one selling cosmetics retailer in Canada and the US, and their brick-and-mortar locations are only expanding.
Using data from online channels also helps in offline marketing. Monitoring customer product reviews online, for example, now helps retailers better manage and display their inventory in-store. Best Buy has just recently integrated such data into their own stores by displaying online reviews alongside their products on shelves, which makes their customers’ omnichannel shopping journey even easier.
3. Use the newest tech
Top-tier retailers are using only the latest gadgets to improve their shopping experience. In fact, you could say there’s now a retail arms race to integrate new “endless aisle” technology into stores.
Endless aisle-ing is yet another omnichannel approach that allows customers to easily order out-of-stock items on their mobile device or other convenient interfaces installed in their local store.
Sephora has also geared up its stores by collaborating with Pantone to produce ColorIQ, a program that pairs shoppers’ skin tones with a matching shade of makeup. The beauty giant continues to produce other creative solutions through their innovation lab in a race to be one of the most tech-enabled brands in the market.
Brands taking steps to improve their service, data collection, and tech demonstrate the difference between surviving and thriving. Bringing the online shopping experience into brick-and-mortar stores and vice versa expands consumers’ purchasing options, and that convenience brings foot and web traffic running to brands.
If you, too, want to avoid joining the ranks of the retailers succumbing to the retail apocalypse, you’ll need to keep up with your customers’ expectations. And yes, we can help with that.
From Baby Boomers to Generation Z, each generation has its own defining political and cultural traits that have characterized their coming-of-age and shopping habits.
As of now, there are four major generational demographics that economists have recognized as distinct markets: Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y (more popularly known as Millennials,) and Gen Z—each of which is unique in their perspectives on marketing tactics and purchasing preferences.
If retailers want to make their products available to each generation in the best way possible, they need to adapt their brand experience in a way that accommodates all the options that these groups rely on. That’s why we gathered all the data you need to know just what each generation is looking for.
Baby Boomers Shopping Habits Born 1946 to 1964
When it comes to the joy of shopping, Baby Boomers want convenience above all else.
The Boomer generation is just too stressed for shopping trips, as Colloquy reports that at a 27 percent response rate, Boomers were the least likely to agree with the statement “I think shopping is a great way to relax” when compared to all other generational groups. They also scored well below Millennials in terms of browsing with only 37 percent of Boomers reporting that they would be likely or willing to explore a store for new products.
The Baby Boomer’s aversion to browsing is understandable; with a greater amount of disposable income than all other generations, Baby Boomers also have the spending power to make purchases without necessarily hunting down for bargains in-store, which is a greater characteristic of Millennials and Gen Z. However, Boomers are very comfortable browsing and shopping online with 85 percent of surveyed Boomers reporting that they research products on their web browsers. In a surprising finding by Immersion Active, Boomers aren’t opposed to taking a leap of faith to purchase products online either as 66 percent of Boomers reportedly make regular purchases via web devices.
Although they regularly make purchases online, Baby Boomers by far prefer the personal engagement of traditional stores when making actual purchases. At 84 percent, Boomers were highest amongst all survey groups in expressing their preference to shop in-store, and 67 percent report that if an item they want is available online or in a nearby store, they prefer to purchase it at their local retailer rather than order online.
The root of Boomers’ brick-and-mortar preference is tied to their high expectations of customer service. According to a LoyaltyOne survey on generational consumer habits, Boomers were the most likely demographic to take their business away from retail chains following a subpar exchange with one of their sales associates.
Boomers place immense value in brands based on their interactions with sales associates, and retailers can capitalize on this by offering the experience through digital channels. Social web store features and clienteling appshave become vital tools in engaging the Boomer generation and catering to their reliance on associates’ recommendations.
When it comes to social influence, Boomers are more selective on what sources they trust for brand recommendations. Although 82 percent of Baby Boomers are on social media, they are still unlikely to use the platform as an influence on their shopping habits, and only 12 percent of Boomers say they look to friends and family for advice on their purchases. Instead, Boomers are twice as likely as Millennials to have their interest sparked by the reported popularity of a brand when purchasing a new or unfamiliar product. This suggests that brands with bold and consistent omnichannel engagement are likely to perform better among the Boomer demographic due to their suggested popularity.
Generation X Shopping Habits Born 1965 to 1980
Sandwiched between the Boomers and Millennials, Gen X is often referred to the “middle child” generation due to its reputation of often being forgotten by marketing specialists. Because of this, there is little market research into their spending habits compared to those of Boomers and Millennials. This comes as a shock when the spending power of this generation can’t be ignored: Gen Xers produce 31 percent of total US income despite representing a mere 25 percent of the population.
One of the greatest obstacles in the marketing approach to Gen Xers is that they tend to shop more conservatively than other generations. They’re more sceptical about marketing tactics, which means they won’t be won with flashy advertising but with practicality and proof of performance.
To avoid regretting their expenditures, Xers won’t purchase a product until they’ve researched it thoroughly, which is why they make extensive use of search engines, online reviews, and social media networks before making a purchase. That being said, having any doubts about product performance will easily dissuade them from their buying journey.
Gen X prefers honest explanations of product usage and trusts clienteling techniques that cater to their own habits. When marketing to Gen Xers, it’s critical to make products and services especially visible and accessible online by using SEO strategies to optimize their research and an active social media presence to demonstrate a personable and authentic brand image. Digitally, email is one of best channels for reaching out to this generation. Gen Xers check emails on a regular basis and are more likely to respond well to personalized offers based on their previous purchases. Like Baby Boomers, Xers also rely on quality customer service for brand loyalty as they see store associates as people who can relate to them on a consumer level and relay the best options for their purchases without an upsell.
Generation Y (Millennials) Shopping Habits
Born 1981 to 1997
Whether for social media, research, or purchases, Millennials use web devices in nearly every aspect of their life, even while shopping in stores. 68 percent of Millennials demand the convenience of omnichannel accessibility during their shopping journey, which means having an integrated experience that can effortlessly transition their consumer data from their smartphone, to laptop, to local store, and back again.
Millennials are so omnivorous in their point-of-sales that as a generational demographic, they’re the most likely to make use of every avenue of purchasing available to them. In fact, younger Millennials (aged 20-23) on the cusp of Gen Z are more likely to shop in a brick and mortar store when compared to older Millennials (aged 32-35,) who are the most likely within the group to buy via mobile. And overall, when Millennials shop for something both online and in a store, they are much more likely to make a purchase in a store than they are online. But while the myriad of online stores and buying options today have offered Millennials the ability to be more selective with their purchases, the options can get overwhelming as Millennials actually tend to prefer browsing for products across brands rather than settling on an option and purchasing it.
Seeing shopping as a social event is another trait that strongly characterizes the Millennial market and sets it apart from older generations. In stark contrast to Baby Boomers, research shows that Millennials enjoy shopping and see it as fun and relaxing activity to be shared with friends and family. According to Gen Buy, the grand majority of Millennials report that they shop with other people at least half the time, and 60 percent consider advice from their friends when deciding what to buy.
Of course, the social consumer experience is not only limited to shopping mall excursions but social media as well: 68 percent of Millennials admit to being strongly influenced by social media posts while 84 percent say user-generated content has at least some influence on what they buy.
Retailers should recognize that social media is extremely important to Millennials in their purchasing journey because even though they value the opinions of family and friends, they seek out the experiences of other consumers above all. Not only do 90 percent of Millennials research product reviews online, most tend to rely on other consumers’ reviews on retailers’ sites over those of people they know. By taking advantage of all these forms of recommendations, it’s no surprise that 82 percent of Millennials say word-of-mouth is a key influencer of their purchase decisions.
Like Gen X, Gen Y is also sceptical of overbearing marketing tactics. Millennials tend to reject retailers who constantly push products through messaging and instead prefer authentic interactions with sales associates who happen to also be consumers of their retailer’s products. Millennials are also likely to interact with brands and retailers through social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook in order for their voices to be heard.
Gen Z Shopping Habits
Born 1998 to 2010
Gen Z is the generation of digital natives that can’t remember a time before Internet, and as such, the platform has become the foundation of their buying process. Gen Z uses their plethora of Google resources to compare prices, styles, availability, and ratings of products to make the most educated purchase possible. Being savvy with price-checking tools also makes Gen Z more selective when making big expenditures with many often buying products only when they’re on sale or even delaying gratification by waiting for newer products to become available.
While much of their research is digital, Gen Z still enjoys visiting stores as a social excursion in the same way Millennials do. In fact, 84 percent of Gen Zers intentionally structure their shopping trips a social activity and wait to accumulate a solid list of wants and needs before visiting stores with friends.
Like Gen Y, Gen Z is also likely to contribute to consumer-generated content for brands by voicing their comments and concerns online and by seeking out interactions with brand representatives. As Sara Spivey, CMO of Bazaarvoice, says, “Companies should encourage Gen Zers to share photos and videos with their purchases, create polls and contests on social media and, most importantly, listen and respond to their feedback.”
Catering to Gen Z’s online expectations by providing consumer-generated content is crucial for retailers, because not only do these teens respond extremely well to word-of-mouth, but they actively participate in it as well. Spivey claims that 40 percent of Gen Zers give online reviews “very often,” which in turn encourage others within their generation to purchase products. In this sense, Gen Z consumers sharing brand content on social media can easily be considered unofficial brand ambassadors.
Despite being inundated with digital content, Gen Z still prefers to shop in-store versus online, but they crave a store that can keep up with their tech more than anything. Companies need to understand that technology drives Gen Z’s shopping experience—an established social media presence should complement touchscreens in brick and mortar stores if retailers want to keep tech-savvy Gen Zers eager to interact with their brand.
Ironically, the instant gratification that Gen Z has become accustomed to through their digital habits isn’t entirely sustainable from their web devices when it comes to shopping.
“Two-thirds say they’re comfortable shopping online but still prefer to shop in-store for the instant gratification of not having to wait for their orders to arrive,” says Spivey. “The shopping trend of buying online and picking up in-store is quickly gaining traction with this group.”
Additional research shows that other wallet-friendly incentives, such as coupon offers (all generations love coupons,) are also a great way to bring Gen Zers in store.
Considering how Gen Z and Gen Y both still shop both online and offline, and reportedly more so than older generations, retailers need to prioritize enhancing both groups shopping experiences by appealing to their affinity for technology and perspective on shopping as a social enterprise. Offline, stores should promote a chic, tech-savvy, communal atmosphere. Online, retail sites should interact with and promote user-generated content to provide a seamless shopping experience across the average Gen Zer’s many juggled web devices.
————– With generations old and new increasingly using web devices to help them make purchases, digital tools are shaping the way customers across all generations interact with brands. Using the right clienteling apps and social media engagement techniques will help retailers build lasting relationships with consumers who continue to seek social and authentic customer service experiences during their buying journey.
Watch “The New Role of Omnichannel Associates” webinar moderated by Joe Keenan, Total Retail’s Executive Editor. Hear from Kiehl’s Retail Director, Jason Steiner and Salesfloor’s CEO, Oscar Sachs. Kiehl’s Retail Director, Jason Steiner, shares how they redefined clienteling with new store associate tools to help increase online conversions and drive traffic back to the stores. Salesfloor CEO, Oscar Sachs, provides best practices and insights from leading retailers who are empowering store associates with new clienteling tools.
The mobile-first approach to marketing was a fantastic idea…at first.
At the turning point of the smartphone era, a new UX strategy needed to be developed to suit what appeared to be the only preferred platform of the customer on-the-go. Working outward from a mobile to desktop interface ensured an identical experience that carried over without sacrificing all the bells and whistles that a desktop platform would boast, and while we celebrate the platform shift, it certainly hasn’t been the best or last development in improving the shopper’s journey.
As uniquely form-fitting as mobile development is for improving users’ access to products that they would otherwise have via desktop, it recreates some of the same problems of desktop-only sites. Mobile first fails to ask why online shoppers are using one device or another, and what they’re looking for in choosing that option. Do they need efficiency, experience and incentives? And how can a platform assist in each of those? Omnichannel retail platforms with mobile, desktop, and brick-and-mortar façades have the potential to adapt their interfaces. The myriad of reasons for why a customer might opt for a mobile over desktop interface or interchange between the devices over the course of their shopping journey are addressed and accounted for in its features.
The case against mobile-first is a matter of meeting the potential that the platform truly offers. It’s no longer enough for retailers to adapt their sites and retail apps to the parameters of a smartphone or tablet screen—they need to contextualize their usage as well. The use of a mobile device is within the context of a user’s immediate needs and trend-proven preferences, and catering to these whims goes beyond simply distinguishing between them to actively striving for an interface that suits each experience. That’s why the next logical step for ease-of-access marketing is a leap from a mobile-first to a context-first approach, which considers the circumstances in which the platform is used, then adapts it to suit that need.
If a millennial is researching product reviews on their smartphone before making a purchase in-store, as over 80% of them reportedly do, their user experience could be improved significantly based on the context of their location.
Should the retailer’s context-first-built mobile app recognize that the buyer is presently at the store, a feature could allow it to forgo all the animations and filler content that usually characterize the app and instead prioritize product reviews in its preview icons and native search engine. Other possible extensions of using context to optimize the online experience have even included suggestions to program retail applications to analyze a device’s battery power and data usage to estimate what context the user is presently in and adapt itself to suit that contextual need best.
While these examples may seem idealistic, they’re not far-fetched technology-wise. They also serve to illustrate just how much a web interface can be optimized by using the context of the customer’s location to streamline their interactions and make their journey from the aisle to check-out counter as breezy as possible.
One of the other many strengths of the context-first approach is that it operates aside from live, time-and-space data monitoring. Context-first also offers all the benefits of the classic marketing technique of demographic targeting, only instead of using dated census-based guidelines such as age or gender, it operates off a concrete set of consumer personas uniquely identified through user interaction and shopping habits.
Saks’ secret is that it uses the context-first-built retail tool Salesfloor Storefront™ to customize product recommendations to their clients via the application’s Most Recommended feature. Salesfloor’s Associate Data Cloud uses the data gathered from purchasing, browsing, and other activities from every store in the network to update and selectively suggest relevant products to different shoppers.
Now potential and returning customers of blazers, headbands, and sequin skirts can be readily recommended deals on products that are more relevant to them, such as blouses, strollers, and six-inch heels. The professional, the parent, and the trendsetter now each have a personalized interface where they can browse for curated products at their leisure without having to step over the items that would only interest the other personas.
Another Salesfloor client, Harry Rosen, uses Salesfloor Connect™ to personalize their online customer experience even further by taking advantage of the application’s embedded tool that allows customers to interact and connect with associates based on their location. Not only does this feature increase engagement with the brand, but it also optimizes the customer’s use of their preferred platform by adapting product recommendations to suit their needs best. As for the brand itself, they benefited from up to an average of 50% more service requests by customers after they integrated Connect™ directly within their site pages.
The new customer journey starts with checking out reviews and ends in the checkout line, but all the steps and motives between the two points are unaccounted for in a mobile-first approach.
Mobile first is limited by its simple mirroring of desktop content when it has the potential to be just as complex and nuanced as any one person’s shopping habit. The context-first approach is designed to synch with the in’s and out’s of daily life, the customer’s shopping persona, and the high-quality customer service that they expect when they go to their browsers to interact with a brand.
As more high-end brands secure their clienteling by adopting context-first built applications, retailers that lag behind the trend are apt to miss out on the benefits and sales offered by the industry’s latest innovation.