During the pandemic, shopping shifted overwhelmingly to online channels, and retailers were forced to transform to keep up. In addition to delivery orders, buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) transactions also surged, growing by more than 200% in the first weeks of the pandemic.
These weren’t the only changes retailers had to embrace, however. Before COVID-19, when in-store shopping was still the norm for many customers, store associates were brand experts who focused on delivering personalized in-store experience. Now, with the shift to digital shopping, associates have had to take their in-store, in-person skills and expertise and adapt them to online interactions.
Store associates are now responsible for knowing product availability and managing inventory online as well as in-store. They need to communicate with shoppers across multiple channels and platforms. And above all, they need to build meaningful connections with customers they may never meet in person.
In this new retail world, omnichannel store associates are the facilitators between online and in-store shopping. For retailers, that means managing the transition to omnichannel isn’t just about technology or platforms: investing in store associates is essential. Omnichannel store associates are a crucial part of delivering an exceptional customer experience to every customer, regardless of how they’re shopping.
Here’s five key ways that store associates bring value to the omnichannel experience.
- They humanize the digital experience. Online shopping used to be faceless and impersonal. Customers could see pictures of products, and maybe even video, but there was no easy way to get information beyond the item description. Now, whether they’re interacting with customers via text, on social platforms or in a video chat, omnichannel store associates deliver the personalized, immediate experiences that customers want.
- They act as brand ambassadors. Omnichannel store associates know your product line as well as anyone in your business: they’ve interacted with it daily, and even more important, they’ve seen your customers interact with it as well. With omnichannel clienteling, associates can share their enthusiasm with customers online, offering their personal touch and making suggestions that spark customer interest, just as they did in-store.
- They help with delivery and fulfillment. While customers are ordering online, for many brands those orders are being filled from stores. In addition to interacting with customers via digital channels, omnichannel associates are in stores, gathering items and preparing orders for curbside pickup. Many are even making local deliveries.
- They minimize cart abandonment. Did you know that nearly 70% of online carts are abandoned? Omnichannel associates can guide customers along the online journey, helping with product selection, offering consultation and helping with remote payment.
- They represent the entire store experience. Omnichannel store associates deliver personalized, hyper-curated shopping experiences with every customer, whether they’re shopping in-store, buying online and picking up in person, or shopping online for delivery. By making the shopping experience safer and more convenient for every customer, omnichannel store associates have the power to help your business reach new levels.
As retailers look forward to a return to stores, there’s little doubt that customers will continue to embrace digital options: the immediacy of online ordering, the convenience of curbside pickup, and the safety of contactless shopping. Want to deliver all of these, and an exceptional customer experience to boot? Your omnichannel store associates have it all in hand.
For more information on our Tulip solutions, contact a Tulip representative today.