Retail TouchPoints – The day-to-day life of the modern store associate is more demanding than ever. In the past, employees were tasked with stocking shelves, assisting customers and completing transactions at the cash wrap. But as retailers build out their omnichannel operations and engagement strategies, associates’ to-do lists and necessary skill sets are growing dramatically.
This Special Report delves into what savvy retailers are doing to engage and motivate their employees and includes several comments from Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners.
However, retailers are encountering a predicament: While they’re in dire need of friendly, skilled and tech-savvy employees, the average turnover rate in retail remains especially high, according to Ken Morris, Principal at Boston Retail Partners. “There is an increased number of available retail positions and a reduction in the number of people interested in them,” Morris said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “To acquire and engage the right employees, retailers need to invest in tools, technologies and learning tactics that empower their workforce and make them feel more connected to the brand.”
40% of retailers say empowering associates with mobile tools is one of their top three priorities through 2016, according to Boston Retail Partners’ 2016 POS/Customer Engagement Survey. Top capabilities include guided selling tools for associates (73%), clienteling (63%), and suggested selling based on what is in a customer’s closet (51%). With real-time access to pertinent customer data, associates can get a 360-degree view of the customer they’re serving, including his or her personal tastes, brand preferences, favorite colors, styles, preferred sizes and more. Not only does this create a great experience for customers, but it also makes associates feel more confident in their selling and service skills. A variety of retailers, such as Nordstrom, Design Within Reach and True Religion have improved customer engagement and overall sales since implementing mobile POS and clienteling tools in-store.
Video: “YouTube videos are one of the most effective training tools,” Morris of Boston Retail Partners said. “They can be accessed from anywhere you have Internet access and the combination of audio and visual is the clearest way to communicate new processes.”
“Recognize and reward associates who effectively engage the customer and enhance the customer experience across channels — those are the customers who will keep coming back and help sell your brand.” — KEN MORRIS, BOSTON RETAIL PARTNERS
Many retailers (55%) also do not offer employees incentives for fulfilling omnichannel orders, according to the 2016 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey from Boston Retail Partners. Other rewards vary:
- Offering partial sales credit or commission for orders fulfilled from a store (27%);
- Having dedicated employees handle fulfillment (16%);
- Adjusting store labor costs/ credits to compensate for orders fulfilled from a store (16%);
- Providing incentives or bonuses to pull inventory and fulfill orders promptly (7%); and
- Rewarding associates with complete credit for a sale (2%).
Morris added: “When retailers fail to motivate and compensate sales associates, they risk lackluster adoption of processes at the floor level, and subpar customer experiences.”