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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.





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.


Bringing the Online Experience Offline in Retail

When Amazon announced it was going to build brick and mortar concept grocery stores – Amazon Go – it made huge waves in the media.

What was particularly interesting about it was how they incorporated a feature usually only seen online: Amazon’s ‘Buy with 1-Click’ button.  This feature would create a seamless experience for the shopper: just select the items you want and then simply walk out of the store.

What Amazon knew about this move is what smart retailers are looking to do in brick and mortar properties: design stores replicate the best features of online stores. If that sounds like something out of a Black Mirror episode, it’s not. It’s going to be a hot trend in the future.

We’re far enough into the online retail revolution where we know there are some teens and adults who have grown up digital-first, even in retail. This fundamentally changes the purchase expectations and flow of a growing number of customers.

The ease of which regular shoppers online can navigate from consideration to purchase, to owning the item is a key part of the next generation of retail design.

In November of 2017, Target unveiled a redesign centred around the changing ways people shop.  The store has a dedicated entrance for “express” shoppers: through this entrance, wine, beer, and package pick up are the first things you see. The store also has curbside pick up where a store employee will deliver an order you placed directly to your car.

If none of these options applies to you, you can use Target’s second entrance, for shoppers to “discover” new items or brands.

This twofold strategy emulates two distinct shopper patterns that exist both offline and on: The on-demand shopper, and the discovery shopper.  By redesigning the space, Target hopes to capture both styles in a way that directly addresses their needs.

Apple got rid of the purchase queue years ago by making on-demand checkouts a reality in their stores. Customers can either walk up to any sales associate with a handheld device check themselves out with the Apple Store application. Just pick up the product you want, scan the barcode, enter your AppleID, and voila! You can walk out of the store with your new purchase without interacting with anyone.

The trend for retail seems to be moving toward operating the way we have become accustomed to shopping online all in an effort to bring people back into brick and mortar stores. The seamless process marries the best of both worlds: the ability to touch and feel the product in real-time and to ask crucial questions about the product while avoiding waiting in checkout lineups.

How can retail stores without hundreds of millions of dollars in renovation budgets and armies of sales associates effectively leverage this trend?

Set up a fast lane in-store

Set up an area somewhat close to your entrance for customers to pick up, return, reserve, or gift wrap items easily. If you’re unsure whether this will work, try setting it up during a busy time for shopping or returns for your store. It’s important to look at adoption rates, and solicit verbal feedback from those who choose to use this option.

Consider having grab and go stations in your store for the most commonly purchased items. Make these stations close enough to a cash or a mobile cashier to make the experience quick and easy for the customer

Work with your regular customers to make in-store shopping smarter

Using Salesfloor, you can set up predictive newsletters with items in them you know your customers will love, and let them know you can prep these items for them to pick up on demand in-store.

Look for purchase cadence for regular customers and be predictive about what you think they might need. This helps your associates become indispensable to these customers, who will likely return for the same simple, efficient service,

Increase discoverability

Merchandising isn’t just about showing off new lines or items that are on trend right now. Merchandising is also successful when it helps fulfil a need.

Online stores often bubble up “bought together” items in an effort to anticipate a customer’s needs. Grocery stores in vacation spots have long known the value of placing disposable barbecue kits in near the barbecue sauce, and solo cups and ping pong balls in with the mixer or near the beer.

Anticipating common uses or combinations of items in your store and either packaging them as kits or displaying how someone could package them/buy them together is a great way to increase total spend, and a great way to establish your store as a place that solves problems, thus increasing purchase frequency and word of mouth.


We live in an increasingly on-demand economy, but that does not mean that in-store retail is obsolete. Without resorting to wildly expensive redesigns, you, too, can leverage what the larger stores know about the change in how e-commerce trained customers shop and use that to gain strategic advantage by tweaking how your store and associates deliver the shopping experience from outside the store to the cash.


Winning the Holidays with Seasonal Associates

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 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!


3 Things You Can Do to Avoid the Retail Apocalypse

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.

Walmart Canada has already begun pioneering endless aisle tech by outfitting touch screen kiosks in its stores and providing local pick-up options to combat the rivalling convenience of other online mega-retailers such as Amazon.

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.


3 Ways Omnichannel has Changed Clienteling

With 73% of consumers now shopping both online and in-store, retailers are on the move to adapt. Enter the omnichannel approach: an integrated shopping experience that allows customers to shop however they like, whether they buy in-store, online, or both simultaneously. The media strategy has brought new possibilities to clienteling by changing the way people shop and how businesses interact with them.

Simply put, omnichannel marketing is improving relationships with customers dramatically, and here’s how:

#1. It brings customers back to you

Over the past five years, foot traffic to brick-and-mortar stores has declined, yet the value spent on each visit has nearly tripled.

Why? Google estimates omnichannel is to blame.

Shoppers are increasingly researching products, ideas, and availability online before heading over to their local store, but it doesn’t stop there—82% of smartphone users say they consult their phones on potential purchases while they browse in-store as well. According to the Harvard Business Review, this studying pays off: shoppers who conducted prior research on retailers’ sites spent 13% more in-store than those who did not.

Providing an omnichannel shopping experience not only adapts retailers to modern purchasing behavior, it also builds customer loyalty. Offering online shopper incentives such as in-store only coupons and free shipping on their orders if sent to their local store gives them options for how to proceed with their purchase and makes the brand more accessible to them.

Digital channels that feature live chat messaging applications with retail associates can especially be used to inspire customers to visit local retailers and experience their customer service first-hand. More importantly, retailers can use this virtual interface to engage with their customers online with the same level of service that they would otherwise have in store.

#2. It puts the customer first

Omnichannel considers the customer experience from their perspective, and in that, convenience is key. Customers now expect brands to be relevant, accessible, and easy to navigate no matter what or how many channels they use. In fact, according to Google, 60 percent of online customers begin shopping on one device and continue on another.

With an omnichannel interface, interactions both online and offline allow shoppers to identify themselves, access their personal shopping history and preferences, and pick up their shopping journey from wherever they left off—whether they continue shopping online or in-store. This cross-platform access gives the buyer total control over their shopping process and ensures that their experience is seamless from start to finish.

By recognizing the value of personalization, the omnichannel approach allows customers to build a relationship with brands at their own pace—anytime, anywhere—and that reliability shapes clienteling.

#3. Data is now a give-and-take

When customers take advantage of the user data saved by omnichannel interfaces, they provide retailers with their own data—behavioral data, such as when they visit the site or store, what products they’ve viewed, and which shopping channels they’ve used. Even clickable products can send in clienteling if monitored by the right omnichannel application. Predictive analytical tools can then use this data to determine which customers are more likely to use discounts, free shipping, or other offers, and then make those deals available to them.

This omnichannel marketing approach makes clienteling easier than ever; it stiffs full-blast email ads by opting for a more successful one-on-one approach that promotes specific offers based on individual shoppers’ needs. Bottom line: This data provided by customers is invaluable for retailers seeking to build a long-term relationship with their clientele.

Does your retail business have an omnichannel platform yet? Getting started now will help adapt your clienteling for the modern world. Check out Think with Google or Salesfloor for apps, articles, and tools to set up your own omnichannel experience.

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6 Lessons We Can Learn from Sephora

[title image from Flickr]

Sephora is now the #1 specialty beauty retailer in the world, and it’s all due to how they’re different from your mom’s makeup buying experience. Sephora’s success shows that when you let customers create a shopping experience that works for them, it also works for you. Here’s how you can do the same:

1. Build the in-store experience they desire

When you walk into a back-lit, booming Sephora store, you feel more than welcomed, you feel empowered. Sephora’s approach to merchandising has contributed immensely to their success as they identified all the hurdles of purchasing makeup and promptly tossed them out the door.

Sephora knows that customers are exhausted by the grab-bag quality of pharmacy makeup aisles and the competitive product-pushing found in traditional department stores. The Sephora alternative offers a more accessible shopping experience that’s designed to be low-pressure. Retail assistants are taught to refrain from the hard sell that department stores rely on and instead work with each customer holistically to find the products that match them best while stepping back as needed. This gives Sephora customers the power to choose both their products and their service; they have the freedom to explore the store as they would a pharmacy without sacrificing department store-quality brands, tutorials, and assistance.

2. Offer a personalized approach

Customers are increasingly demanding customization as part of their shopping experience—especially if they’re shelling out for luxuries like makeup. Whether it’s primer for oily skin or moisturizer for dry, Sephora recognizes that their customers require a unique and personalized approach, and they offer this through in-store swatch samplings and makeup demonstrations that allow shoppers to test different brands to be sure they’re buying the right product at the right place.

But Sephora doesn’t stop there: their personalized shopping experience extends to the web, which has been a major key to their success in keeping customers loyal to their brand.

3. Reward loyalty

While baby boomers tend to be brand-loyal, the growing millennial market is more cost-conscious and would rather selectively pick and choose across brands so long as they fit their budget. So how do you get them to be loyal to your business? Give them the most bang for their buck: a loyalty program that rewards them and caters to their needs.

One of Sephora’s secret weapons is its VIB loyalty program, which grants members free gifts, in-store event offers, and discounts after their purchases. What makes VIB so dangerously effective is that it also requests that its members fill out their profile with information regarding their complexion, skin type, and other preferences. Sephora then analyzes this data to create a curated set of product recommendations that suit their specific needs.

The strategy is meant to digitalize the personalized, in-store shopping experience that customers have upon walking into their local brick-and-mortar.

“[We] figured out early on that if we were to get the basics right, we should ask the questions as if we were standing in the store,” Bridget Dolan, VP of Interactive Media at Sephora, shares with Forbes. “What skin type do you have? …If she tells us that she has dry skin then the product that she’s going to receive in an email will have that attribute.”

Evidently, all that tailoring works—Dolan says that a whopping 80 percent of Sephora’s transactions now run through VIB and that clearly, “It’s a win-win.” [Source]

4. Think mobile and digital first

Much of Sephora’s success is due its digital customer experience, which is interactive, multipurpose, and totally on-point. Nearly half of Sephora’s digital traffic is through its mobile interface [source], which features almost all the accoutrements of its desktop site, including a user-friendly layout that conveniently highlights all product news on the front page.

But Sephora didn’t just build their website around their customers’ desire to shop—it also accommodates their pressing need to ensure quality before they buy. This is why is revolutionary for providing sections for user-generated content such as BeautyTalk, a forum for casual customers and experts alike to discuss products, and the Beauty Board, a space for customers to post pictures of how their Sephora-bought cosmetics fare out in the real world.

5. Collaborate with the culture

If your customers aren’t already shopping through your website, they’re still likely to research your products online. Beauty bloggers on YouTube and Instagram are gradually replacing counter clerks in educating consumers on the best makeup brands and application lessons. Sephora embraced this culture by partnering with such key influencers, and their collaboration has indirectly increased the brand’s engagement with all other consumers online.

The reason why is simple: word-of-mouth continues to be the best way to market, and these big-name beauty bloggers are trusted by even the most discerning customers. Bloggers will speak plainly when they feel a product is expensive or reliable, and because customers crave this authenticity, they’re more likely to follow their advice than that of expert cosmeticians. Sephora now owes a great deal of its brand awareness to these bloggers who preach the quality of their products; their promotion has helped increase traffic to Sephora’s online storefront and cultivate a positive reputation on social media.

Speaking of social media…

6. Be truly social

Customers hate feeling that they’re speaking to a marketing department; they want brands with an online presence that’s personified, humorous, conversational. This is why being interactive with consumers via social media is crucial in giving them the experience that they want.

Along with actively liking, commenting, and responding to customers’ posts, Sephora frequently uses their Instagram to share looks posted by their fans. The prestige that comes along with this promotion has since encouraged thousands of users to tag #Sephora in their posts for a chance to be featured on their page. It’s Sephora’s sincere, mutually beneficial, give-and-take relationship here that keeps their customers engaged and their social media truly social.


Combining the best of both in-store and online shopping is what makes Sephora shine in the industry. The beauty brand knows that digitalizing the in-store experience is the new market tactic, but it’s no secret—and it’s applicable to all retailers.

Want to bring your customer service to the mobile world, too? It’s easier than you think! Get started now with a retail app that works for you.

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Creating a Customer Community for your Brand

Some of the most coveted brands in the world all have one thing in common: they have active, dedicated communities that help spread the word about the brand in an organic, authentic way. Lesser brands try to chase this success by trying to find shortcuts to building community, and they often fail. Just like in friendship or love, you can’t use gimmicks to force your relationship to grow.

So, how do brands go about moving from a transaction to building and supporting customer communities? Well, just like in interpersonal relationships, the best way to get them started and help them grow is to be helpful and offer the other person something they need without asking for anything in return.

Let’s look at how some famous brands have created and maintain great communities.

#1. Offer Free Workshops

It seems counter-intuitive to have a store dedicated to one specialty and then assume the person shopping there has no knowledge or understanding of your specialty, but that’s exactly what the Home Depot has done. The Home Depot were early adopters of workshops in their stores, teaching people everything from how to make a birdhouse to how to replace a toilet. Even children can learn DIY basics in a safe, nonjudgmental environment. Why is this important? People visiting hardware stores have a wide variety of skill levels, but everyone can learn. Learning the latest methods for completing projects makes a customer feel confident, and more ready to tackle the project at hand (and come back to the store to purchase what they need to complete the project.) Some of these customers will be “bitten by the bug” and let their desire to learn guide them back to the store with higher frequency.

#2. Create a Place to Gather


If you’ve ever been to the Apple Store, you understand why Apple waited so long to get their retail experience just right. On any given day, if you visit an Apple store, you will see a high percentage of customers visiting just to hang out. Visit Frank & Oak’s bricks and mortar stores on any given day and you’ll hear the whoosh of a Cappuccino machine and smell old fashioned shaving lather at their dedicated cafe and barber shop. Giving customers reasons to drop in and experience your brand when they’re not looking to make a purchase helps keep your brand top-of-mind. Giving customers a place they can invite friends to visit helps spread positive brand association and build new customer relationships organically.

#3. Help Your Customers Find Customers

Everyone probably has a pair of Lululemon yoga pants at home, but there are some people for whom Lululemon’s athletic wear is part of their vocation. Lululemon realized early on one of the secrets to getting their brand to grow was to provide special services to those in Yoga and other athletic instruction trades. Lululemon’s Ambassador program is a massive endeavour- they partner with hundreds of instructors and athletes, providing them with free gear and promotion, while working with these athletes on hosting free events, from Yoga classes to run clubs. Instructors get exposure to pre-qualified customers who are interested in learning more about a sport, and in turn add clients to their rosters. Lululemon is able to build and galvanize their reputation as *the* athletic outfitter by associating with the best instructors and athletes.

#4. Connect Your Customers Through their Passions

Make up has always been a word-of-mouth business. It’s the reason that the same 3 dollar tube of mascara (Maybelline Great Lash) has been the top seller for decades and why Kiehl’s has been around since 1851 (long before advertising). When make-up wearers and artists find something they like, they are vocal about it. Make up is also the type of purchase that is expensive enough that if you have an adverse experience with it, you’ll want to warn others not to try it. Enter Sephora’s Community Page. This page is for everyone – from the novice to professional make-up artistc- to share tips, tricks, product recommendations, suggestions for dealing with specific issues (covering a birthmark for a graduation photo, etc) to learning how to correctly cover a pimple or under eye circles. Makeup is a personal thing, and people feel more comfortable making purchases once they have some authoritative advice on which product to buy and how to use it. This helps Sephora sell more products, and keep people happier with the purchases they choose.

#5. Create a Platform for Your Customers to Share

Youth fashion brands survive on one thing alone: being cool. ASOS saw the success of hashtags like #OOTD (Outfit of the day) and realized that if they could encourage their own customers to use a hashtag like that, they could show people how people from all over the world were styling and accessorizing their products. ASOS created #AsSeenOnMe.  Visiting this page on the Asos website is like visiting a store with an impossibly cool friend. All the looks suddenly seem achievable. You can get a sense of how to replicate a look, or even build a similar look for yourself with similar ideas. For ASOS, it’s a chance to see fandom in action, but also get a deeper understanding of what their customers like, want, and how they use their products, enabling ASOS to get better at building their lines every year.


Community is increasingly important to brands to help keep customers thinking about your brand even when they don’t need to make immediate purchases. The keys major brands have used to build communities can all be implemented by smaller or medium sized brands. All you need to do is think about what your customer needs, and you have the building blocks for a great community.


5 Ways to Take Customer Experience to the Next Level

We live in a world of convenience, where almost anything is available at the click of a button. We’ve gotten so used to this behavior, in fact, that we often forget that when it comes to things that require human interaction, like selling on a retail floor, there’s no button. This sounds discouraging until you realize that this presents a huge opportunity for retailers to understand, anticipate and delight customers just by paying attention to their needs.

While for some, price will always be King, for most shoppers, finding retailers they can trust, and revisit is incredibly important. According to a 2015 survey, trust in retailers was more important to respondents than price. Customers know what their time is worth, and time not wasted on bad experiences is worth the extra price. The experience, to them,  is worth the investment.

Providing excellent customer experiences is easier than you think to implement. You don’t need gimmicks- you don’t need to put out cupcakes or do expensive giveaways. You just need to look at the retail experience from the position of the customer.  Think about the last time you had a great retail experience. You probably remember something about the salesperson you dealt with-  Now think about the last time you had a TERRIBLE experience. The deficits in the bad experience were probably down to a few things: Feeling like your needs weren’t being heard, salesperson indifference, or inexperience on the part of the salesperson. Most problems stem from these areas. Here’s how to make sure your company rises above the rest.

1. Anticipate your customer’s needs

In all good relationships, observing the preferences of another person and proactively catering to those preferences is a powerful thing. Imagine while talking with your customer, you find out that he has a daughter who is turning 14. Make a note to call him when prom is coming up…make him a hero! Does a customer come in with their dog all the time? Write down the dog’s name and have a few treats or a toy for them the next time they visit.

There are already tools that help associates keep track of a customer’s purchase history and help them to follow up directly from their own mobile devices.

2. Keep track of your customer’s favorite things

Observation is key. Is your customer drawn to certain designers, shapes, cuts? Make note of them in the aforementioned tools. Have they ever come back in the store wearing an item they bought? Make note of it. Understanding the cues customers give you and acting on them- by suggesting items that fit their preferences shows you’re thoughtful and can solve their problems. The last time your customer was in the store, she mentioned her weakness for yellow accessories and you just got a pair of yellow boots. Drop her a note with a picture.

3. Notify your customer when something they’ve been eyeing goes on sale

We have all been there- you’re shopping for something you like, but you’re on your way to dinner so you think you’ll pick it up later, and you eventually forget. Consider the power of proactively making note of customers’ “cart abandons-“ items they seemed to like but had to leave. He came in and tried on that leather jacket that just went on sale this month…and you still have his size. He’ll be surprised when you send him a note  offering to put it aside. A sale at a lower price is still a sale and that thoughtfulness is another way to reinforce your relationship with that client

4. Give your customers a jump on the new releases

You only need to look at the news when a new mobile phone is launched to understand the power of being the first to get something exclusive. Building your relationship with high value customers means delivering on perks. You know this is going to be the hot toy or a must-have coat for this holiday season, so let your best customers know and get a jump on it. Treat the experience like you would treat giving a “just-because” gift for your close friends. They will love you for it.

5. Remember their past purchases

Hair stylists and bartenders who are great at their jobs excel at this. Understanding what your customers like and dislike is key to strengthening the relationship. Last season, your customer bought those white palazzo pants you recommended and the same brand has just released patterned crop tops that would go perfectly. Send her a message to let her know.

BONUS: Help them be a hero

Not all purchases are made for one’s self. Listening to customers talk about people they purchase for, and asking follow up questions can help put you in a position for being a “gift fairy” of sorts for them. If you can help select the perfect gift for their loved ones, you can cement your position with them as being a go-to for gift advice because you solve an important problem for them. If they mention their husband is hard to buy for and needs a new coat, you can be the one who finds the perfect coat and proactively sends the info to them, saving the day for the husband’s birthday.

The keys to great customer care are the same as they keys to any good relationship: Listen, observe, and offer consideration and help when it’s most needed.


How Retailers are Harnessing Data to Increase Sales and Make Happy Customers

Data data data. Seems like everywhere you turn these days, it’s being thrown around as the answer to all of your woes, but when you dig deeper, it’s impossible to figure out how to leverage it to solve anything.

Most retailers these days don’t have a problem with data – they have plenty of it! With more and more technology, we have data about our supply chain, sales numbers, customer preferences, and much, much more. The problem is how do we harness this data to make meaningful changes in our customers’ lives?

We think about that a lot, too, so we’ve put together five examples of retailers that are harnessing customer data to increase sales and create happy customers.

#1. Improve Merchandising – Modcloth

If you aren’t familiar with Modcloth, it is an indie fashion site, carrying a mixture of vintage and vintage-inspired fashion. Or, at least until it was recently acquired by and Walmart, it was.

Either way, it has a strong community of users that buy up their new arrivals faster than they can post them. The reason that they have this level of commitment and success is due to their incredible openness to customer input in their merchandising program.

Up until the recent acquisition, they had a feature called “Be the Buyer” on their site that invited their customers to vote on the items that were to be added to the store:

This popular feature worked two-fold: they were able to improve their merchandising as well as sell products before they even hit the site. Those that voted on items would be notified when they were available in the store.

#2. Leverage Your Customer’s Passions – Sephora

Reviews and star ratings on a website are quite often more confusing than helpful, but Sephora is a retailer who has learned to leverage the right kinds of reviews to tip confused customers in the right direction.

I’ve often looked at a lip color online and wondered how it would look on me – with my fair skin and hair. Enter Sephora’s Beauty Board, where tens of thousands of customers have uploaded themselves wearing various lipsticks, eyeshadows, blushes and more:

#3. Guide and Empower – Harry Rosen

Some sales are lost because the customer is just plain overwhelmed with choice or an inability to do something as simple as putting an outfit together. Harry Rosen solves this by connecting their online customers to in-store advisors through Salesfloor Connect™. This allows them to increase customer engagement by integrating their own links, buttons, banners or other call-to-actions within product pages as they look native to the site (as seen below). Recent results showed that service requests by customers increased by up to 50% after retailers integrated Salesfloor Connect directly within site pages.

This means that a customer who comes to the site and feels a little lost can reach out to their closest associate. They can start a conversation, search for an advisor and explore their profiles to see one whose style suggestions match their tastes, and get the help they need to make the right decision.

They can even request an appointment to go into the store to get full-service help and reserve products in-store with click and collect. This has been a successful strategy for Harry Rosen. All in all, the in-store sales impact of associates serving the online customer is that for every $10 sold online by associates leveraging Salesfloor, $4 in sales was driven in-store..

#4. Uncover the Latest Trends – Saks Fifth Avenue

For customers who are more about browsing and discovering hot new items, data is useful for this, too. Another Salesfloor customer, Saks Fifth Avenue, is using an associate Storefront, which gives them access to the newly released Most Recommended feature to further customize recommendations to their clients.

How it works is that the Salesfloor’s Associate Data Cloud pulls in data from activities across all stores in the network and displays to shoppers what the most recommended products are that day. Displayed in order by the number of recommendations, the section is automatically populated with the product name, image and price and updated daily. When a shopper clicks on the image, they are navigated to the product detail page on the retailer’s website. The shopper can then continue to shop with their associate as the footer is accessible across the site. They can also live chat or send an email at any time.

[according to these recommendations, it must be Spring dress shopping time!]

What this means is that the customer will get recommended the hottest new items fresh every day. If you are a customer who loves to discover the latest greatest, this use of data will definitely excite you.

#5. Predict Their Next Move – Target

Though the media has made it seem like a bit of a boogeyman to customers, predictive analytics is more useful than nefarious. Almost everyone is familiar with the story of how a father found out his daughter was pregnant through Target’s predictive algorithm (this may or may not have been a viral hoax), illustrating how far predictive analytics has come. Though you never want to move into creepy territory, understanding what your customers are buying and mapping buying patterns in general may help you to better serve your customer’s needs.

If someone buys a bathing suit in winter, you can probably infer that they are planning a warm vacation. It makes sense to follow up that purchase with other items frequently purchased for a winter getaway. If someone starts looking at maternity clothes, it’s pretty safe to say they’ll need baby items in 6 months or so.

As long as you don’t push your boundaries too far – like sending a congratulations note – your customers will feel better served.

These are just a few examples of retailers using data to make happier customers and, ultimately, drive more sales. If you have any other examples to share, let us know.

AdobeStock 90523367

5 Ways to Stop Showrooming in its Tracks

It seems like every day, there is more news about the demise of retail stores in America. Some of America’s stalwarts are faltering under what’s being dubbed the Retail Apocalypse. JC Penney, Sears, and Kmart are all companies closing more than 40 stores each in the coming year. Traditional wisdom held that there would always be room for the big players, but these numbers tell a different story.

What’s at the heart of the shrink? A number of factors, including online ordering, reduction of sales floor staff at locations, leading to customer dissatisfaction and a phenomena which 10 years ago changed the electronics and tech retail space: Showrooming.

Showrooming is when a customer interested in buying a product visits a store to interact with the product, ask questions and decide between available models with the express purpose of going home and purchasing the exact product online for a cheaper price.

10 Years ago, you could witness this happening at most electronics stores, but with the expansion of SKUs available online and increasingly attractive delivery options, like same-day delivery in major markets, it’s becoming easier than ever for people to get any item they want delivered, which has led to an expansion of this showrooming behavior.  

Is there a proven way to combat showrooming?

There’s no magic bullet to stop showrooming, but companies that have managed to slow and stop it altogether share at least one of these five approaches:

#1. Acknowledge It Directly (and non-defensively)

Just recently, I was standing in front of a shelf full of printers at Staples with my iPhone out, scrolling through reviews to get more information to help me make a decision. The prices that were coming up on Amazon and other sites were slightly more competitive, but it was the next action that drove me to buy in-store that day.

The sales associate in the printer department, who had noticed me checking my phone against the various printers walked up and said, “If you find a price online that beats ours, let me know and I’ll match it.” And then he added, “And if you are still having a tough time deciding, let me know what you are looking for and I’ll help walk you through your options.”

Honestly, the online reviews weren’t making my decision any easier, so I took him up on his offer. He skillfully walked me through the various options – naming off the pros and cons of each printer. In the end, I picked out a much more expensive model than I planned to buy because of price to quality and he made good on his promise to match the price to Amazon as well as gave me the Costco-bundled rate for extra printer cartridges.

However, because of his non-defensive approach, I would have gladly spent the extra $40 I saved that day. Sales Associates who approach customers checking their phones for reviews and price matching in a non-defensive way open up the opportunity to make the sale on the spot.

#2. Make it Personal

Think about the local butcher shop. Their business isn’t about beating a large grocery store on the price of chicken breasts, it’s about building relationships. The local butcher will ask you questions about your meal plans, and steer you in the right direction, let you know what cuts you might want to try, and even give you tips on how to cook items if you’re looking to try something new.

That’s the way you should look at and approach your business. If you position yourself as a friend with good advice to give, and you manage those relationships every time you deal with a customer, you will bypass their desire to shop around, and they are more likely to shop with you, because you’ve made them feel confident about their decision.

Looking back at my interaction with the sales associate at Staples, this same rule applies. He helped me feel more confident about my decision. Personal touch and human interaction are two things a person pushing a “Buy Now” button can’t get. These are your strategic advantages.

#3. Give Them A Good Excuse To Follow Up With You

There will always be times when you can’t make a sale in the moment, but good sales teams and owners understand how they can still win the day. If you have a rapport going with the customer, find ways you can still accommodate their request.

If you are out of stock in the item they want, offer to call them when it comes in. If you can’t beat a price in the moment on an item, see if they would be interested in being contacted when that item goes on sale. The Salesfloor app makes this incredibly simple for the sales associate to set up instantly:

If someone isn’t in urgent need, and you’ve spent the time interacting with them already, then you should have built trust enough to get their contact information and service the client when they’re not even there. This is a small effort for you that could build strong relationships and lead to future return sales.

#4. Follow Up. Make Good On Your Promise.

It goes without saying that if you take a customer’s contact information, you have to follow through on what you promised: updating them on the status of their request even if the update is bad news. Building rapport is one thing. Building trust is a bigger, better thing.

If you build trust with a customer, they might shop with you or send other people to you because of their connection to you and not for any other factors. That’s important, because there is no digital equivalent of having a person’s trust and delivering consistently excellent customer care.

#5. Anticipate Their Future Needs

Finally, what better way to stop showrooming than catching your customers BEFORE they even head to the store?

The skillful associates at the Saks Fifth Avenue makeup counter have a knack for knowing when I’m about to run out of my favorite products every month and send me a helpful email, letting me know that they can either set aside the products for me to pick up or help me with an online order. This ensures that I don’t even think of walking into another department store or do a search online for the products.

By anticipating your customer’s needs, you can get ahead of their showrooming and make them feel taken care of.

Showrooming will never end as long as there are consumers who are motivated solely on price. However, you can combat showrooming effectively by embracing this lesson: deliver a human experience that caters to the specific needs of each client.