Are you being served?
To people of a certain age, the title above will conjure up images of a sitcom located in a 1970’s department store with the humour based upon stereotypes of the time, that is massively inappropriate today. The title of the show, however, came from a fundamental question from the sales staff to a customer that appeared to be waiting for some assistance. Although not a term used at the time, customer-centricity was at the heart of retail, with knowledge of each regular customer’s preferences at the fingertips of the staff. Then it was lost. Self-service became everything, and sales associates became known as ‘store staff’ – a uniformed resource (primarily) to keep shelves and hangers filled, rather than the guide as the customer follows the path to their purchase. TV and magazines became the source of knowledge for customers, and everything became transactional, with price as the differentiator.
Then along came the internet, disrupting the way that we do everything (well, almost everything) and providing a wealth of information and opinion on everything and anything. As well as opening a whole new world of competition for the established stores, the internet also provided a way for customers to become more informed about the products that they were thinking of buying. Research before buying is now established as the norm, and we have reached the point where you have customers knowing more than the sales associate. That was until now – retailers of all types are turning to technology to equip store associates with information more comprehensive, and immediate, than ever before.
You’ve got the whole world in your hands
Technology of all sorts – electronics, fabrics, food and services – means that products evolve and are superseded much more rapidly than ever before. Consequently, knowing the killer selling points of these products is so difficult for the store staff. Customers focused on their desired purchase, do more and more research on the items they want to buy. They are well armed with facts and comparatives, so we need to help the store teams. This is where assisted selling comes in – using mobile technology to have comprehensive data at your fingertips. Technical information, comparison reports, competitive price details and associated products can all be fed to the store associate so that they are on at least an equal footing with a well-informed customer.
Conversations become more meaningful, credibility is enhanced, and the relationship grows. The customer feels that they want to buy because they can discuss their requirements at a detailed level. Even better, because of the intelligence provided by the technology, the store associate can up-sell by giving reasons why the more expensive model has better features, or cross-sell accessories and complementary products. But why stop there? Companies are taking this even further by enabling personalisation of products. Want that specific design added? Sure. Want your name written on the product? Easy!
And there’s even more…
Huge opportunities exist at this point for further products and services. These tools help ensure that you get a suitably qualified installation engineer, at a time of your convenience, to have the product ready and working: not just delivered to your door in a box. We have long had the follow-up phone call ‘to arrange installation’, but now we expect it to be done at the same time we conclude the sale. It is also unacceptable to have to walk the customer to another part of the store to do this – it needs to be done there and then, where you are standing.
In fact, on larger mobile devices we can further develop assisted selling by using Augmented Reality to show the product (such as furnishings and other household goods) integrated into a photograph of the room it would be in. This becomes powerful, as it takes the customer on the emotional journey of seeing the product in their home.
Where does it work?
This is great news! Anywhere that you have a one to one interaction with the customer as part of the sale is appropriate to have some form of mobile-enabled assisted selling. When you partner this with Clienteling on the same mobile device, you empower the sales associate to have a personal relationship (like having their old, traditional, black book) as well as having in-depth product information to give that expert guidance.
Traditionally viewed as being mainly the territory of the luxury, big ticket, fashion retailers, we are having discussions with clients across many sectors: white goods retail, automotive, home furnishings, financial services and many, many more.
Are you being served? There is no doubt that by offering assisted selling, using mobile technology, you most definitely will be.