How physical and digital retail experiences can successfully converge in the hands of the store associate
As retailers continue to modernise and invest in the in-store experience the world of online retail is now recognised as an integral part of the bricks and mortar experience, a synchronisation referred to as retail convergence. Although lavish fittings and interior design are still key components of high end fashion retail it all starts with the store associate. This role is at the very beginning of the transformational journey.
In the past, and even today inside some retailers, the store associate had little insight into their customer’s needs, tastes and habits. Customer information was held in distant CRM systems or fragmented among multiple sources and only accessible to those who often did not have direct contact with the customer. Without quick and easy access to this data, it was next to impossible for the store associate to track buying patterns & preferences and therefore provide an in-store experience that encouraged and nurtured customer loyalty long term.
Invest in the store associate
By giving the store associate real-time access to stockroom inventory, the ability to jump the checkout queue and continuous communication with the customer – retailers not only bring the online world into the physical store but also give store associates a new toolset that will dramatically transform and improve their working day.
The store associate should be more than a person who replenishes stock or directs a customer to the nearest checkout. For example with the right technology such as a Lookbook app, they can engage with customers even when they are physically not in the store by creating engaging content based on a customer’s interests, which they can then share via email or text.
The store associate can build trust within the brand – they can know when a registered customer has entered the store, allowing them to meet and greet before showing them a new item, which is of registered interest in their 360-degree customer profile.
Digital Retail Convergence
Keytree In-store Technology (KIT) can bring this converging digital experience into the store so the associate and customer get the best of both worlds – it’s important to remember that the success of the new generation in-store experience should fall firmly onto the shoulders of the store associate. Without the dedication of these individuals, working face to face with customers on the shop floor, none of these remarkable technological breakthroughs will have the much-needed impact on the customer’s in-store experience.
Retailers should not underestimate the role of the store associate as they go through any transformational process. They are the key element that gives customers access to everything that online should offer while in the store. The store associate is the face of the business and is the font of all knowledge as everything that’s worth knowing is in the palm of their hand in one easy to use application, which is linking together the best of both worlds.
Lookbook, Omni-channel baskets, Inventory and mobile payments will become more commonplace in the retail sector, due to the influx of Clienteling software – aimed at enhancing the customer journey to provide the ultimate Omni-channel shopping experience.
Keytree In-store Technology can bring together retail convergence into the new generation of digital stores – it’s important to remember that the success of the next generation store requires this forward-thinking technology to grow and enhance the new experience. However, there’s no point in merely handing over new technology to the store associate and expecting instant success – training, product updates with research and development are essential. The technology also needs to be easy to use, so it doesn’t become a hindrance, and the data must be accurate – so the solution can be trusted.
Luxury retailers are expected to continually innovate in-store and improve the customer experience to remain competitive in a highly competitive market place – providing every customer with the desired in-store shopping experience, increasing brand loyalty, customer retention and most importantly sales. For high-end high street fashion houses it is also fundamental to create a shopping experience that is a satisfying representation of the brand itself.
The answer to many of these challenges lies in retail solutions such as Keytree In-store Technology and its modules such as the Digital Black Book. By taking the latest technology available and combining it with unparalleled innovation, driven by market forces, we have developed the toolset required by the store associate to enhance the shopping experience in luxury retail, driving sales across the product line.
Everything in one place – a centralised solution
The Keytree In-store Technology (KIT) team considers the creative use of technology and the user as the driving force behind the product – a product that has been successfully deployed in prestigious luxury fashion houses and used daily by store associates across the globe.
Our range of modules covers Catalogue, Customer Engagement, the Digital Black Book, Lookbook, Runner App, Customer App and oversees an organisation’s Omni-channel Inventory while managing Retail Productivity.
Our extensive research tells us that the product catalogue is the first point of reference for most customers, looking at what’s on offer. Although a brand’s website holds this information – the store associate needs this information in the palm of their hand so they can review one to one with the client. Our catalogue module provides this and more – it also gives shop floor staff the ability to check stock across all stores via any preferred method, including barcode scanning.
The store associate will collect a customer’s personal details and store directly in the application, so they can keep customers up to date with new product information, product lines or items that they may have been waiting to arrive in the store. Our state of the art, customer engagement module gives store associates the power to liaise with clients via their preferred method of communication – be it telephone, email or social channels. KIT can store behavioural data, so staff have a 360-degree real-time view of all previous purchases, interactions, notes and appointments – creating a Digital Black Book.
As the store associate is now communicating one to one with customers, KIT provides a ground-breaking approach to selling goods – by creating personalised style boards and looks based on the customer’s purchasing history and preferences. The suggested looks can then be sent directly to the customer via their choice of communication channel, or why not display the image on an in-store digital display, using Apple TV Broadcast capabilities the next time the customer visits the store.
KIT provides our clients with a customer centric tool that ensures the store associate never needs to leave the customer’s side. After viewing the product catalogue and once an item is selected, KIT will send a note directly to the store runner to retrieve the product from the stockroom and bring to the customer. If they want to try on the item, KIT will tap into the RFID network to locate a vacant changing room.
Keytree In-store Technology provides the store associate with access to inventory across multiple locations, in real-time. Having the ability to check stock and never failing to be in-stock with a product is an essential element in nurturing customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Our product roadmap will continue to learn, enhance and provide customers with the ultimate in-store experience but will also support store associates, helping manage all their tasks, appointments and events through each of their working days.
One summer evening in the late 90s – Rob Lewis, serial entrepreneur and founder of silicon.com gathered senior editors from the IT and business sector in the main hall at the Natural History Museum and made a bold announcement while throwing their publications in a dustbin. He predicted that magazines and newspapers would become a thing of the past – replaced by online news sites.
The dot-com boom of the 1990s carried many predictions and the group of editors from the publishing house who attended the above event has seen its 40 publications become reduced to three in less than 20 years. But other predictions have had a strange, unpredictable journey.
One of the biggest and boldest prophecies was the doomed high street. In the mid-90s, Jeff Bezos left the canyons of Wall Street and set up shop in Seattle where he created his online bookstore, which has since become the largest internet-based retailer in the world. The birth of Amazon was to many the first nail in the coffin for the physical store – or the newly coined phrase ‘bricks and mortar’. How could the high street compete with buying goods from the comfort of your front room – or at your desk during a lunch break?
Crossover physical digital experiences breathing new life into the highstreets
Fast forward 20 years and many big brands have disappeared from our high street, pulling down the shutters on 1,000s of stores. Despite the variety of channels now available to customers (the omni-channel approach), nine out of ten retail transactions still take place in the store, according to Deloitte’s 2014 research – The New Digital Divide.
It’s not all doom and gloom, and companies are starting to realise the value of having an outlet built of bricks. Amazon has gone full circle and in 2015 opened its first physical store and less than 12 months ago, IKEA announced it would be investing in the high street and opening smaller stores to compliment their 18 out of town facilities.
Focusing on the customer experience
The most valuable ingredient for improving the in-store experience is the knowledge base of the store associate – demonstrating a clear understanding of the product on sale as 40 percent of global shopper’s see this as the number one component of an enjoyable visit to the high street, according to the 2016 Total Retail Survey by PwC.
So by giving staff on the shop floor the ability to stay with the client while accessing inventory including detailed product information, it will instantly improve the in-store experience, but it doesn’t stop there. Having access to customer data will greatly inform decisions made by the store associate – such as understanding the client’s channel preference or the styles that match previous purchases, which will go a long way to ensuring customers return on a regular basis.