Using IoT to empower store associates
When it comes to personalizing in-store experiences technology is undeniably useful, but it's important to factor in the human element. After all, a stellar encounter with a sales associate can often make the difference between a lost or saved sale. Clientelling isn’t a new concept in retail, although it’s arguably more common in higher end stores, where they’ll often keep a ‘black book’ with details on valuable customers. The exciting thing about bringing IoT into the retail equation is it makes potentially complex customer service techniques like clientelling more accessible to the masses. In a nutshell it means making customer information available to associates so they can assist customers better – a perfect (and perfectly obvious) use of a platform like Plexure.
We are talking about using customer information, so as with every personalization it’s important not to cross the line into creepsville. Maybe even more so, given the general move towards consulting technology vs humans in-store – 27% of customers that don’t use phones in store would rather talk to a staff member in person and only 14% choose to shop where they do for the knowledge and responsiveness of sales associates.
So it’s not a matter of throwing everything you have on a customer at associates and letting them going for broke; the key is to use what’s most relevant to provide next-level service at the most appropriate time. Your system can alert associates when a customer walks into the store, when they’re in a particular aisle or they’ve viewed content on digital signage, when they’re approaching the checkout or waiting in a queue. It can then provide associates with relevant information: has the customer visited this store (or another) recently? What did they buy? What did they leave without? How about ecommerce activity? What have they searched for or saved to their wishlist?
Empower associates to address customers with personalized recommendations or support for decision making, remembering there’s a difference between having knowledge of a customer and using it to improve service, and using that knowledge as a sledgehammer. Customers value the improved experiences connected associates can offer, but do expect more than being greeted by name - and very few would react well to a complete stranger blurting out every detail of their private lives on the shop floor.
If you know Martin bought a BBQ last time he visited but left without buying a cover for it, then you can send him a relevant BBQ cover promotion when he next comes in. You can also tweak the content on connected displays and record any interaction he might have with them – did he stop and view that particular promo? Did he look up the promoted item on his phone? Did he view the offer details or save it to his favorites?
Your platform can pass this information on to a device-wielding associate, so they can meet Martin in the BBQ aisle and help guide him towards making the purchase. He might have questions about the product, be interested in reviews or may even be open to upgrading to a more premium option – all of which a well-informed connected associate could help with on the spot. And if there's been a sudden rush on BBQ covers resulting in an unexpected empty shelf situation, a connected associate can still save the sale in a number of ways; checking to see if there's stock out the back, ordering an item for in-store pickup or home delivery, or offering a replacement item instead.
Having Martin’s information at hand means your associate knows the exact model of the BBQ he purchased, which cover is being promoted, and the specific offer Martin’s responding to. They know what he values and they're well placed to give him an experience that meets his specific needs. They can also time their assistance for when it’s most likely to be required, avoiding the vague and generally unhelpful “Are you looking for anything in particular?” we’ve all endured at one time or another.
Real helpful in real time = real results.