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Upgrading retail associates for the era of digitization

Technology trends shaping the future of the store associate 

The role of technology is critical in shaping the future of retail and retail associates. As the retail industry undergoes rapid digitization, it is imperative for retailers to equip their associates with the technology to keep them abreast of consumer behaviors and expectations.

By equipping their associates with the necessary technology, retailers can ensure that they are well-prepared to stay competitive and continue to grow their businesses.

Here are a couple key ways retailers are upgrading their sales associates:

Equip sales associates with real-time inventory visibility and product information

Retail associates today face the challenge of providing a personalized and connected shopping experience that fosters customer loyalty across channels. Additional hurdles like product availability also add to the difficulty of this task.

To help them tackle this challenge, retailers are investing in mobile technology, such as iPhones or iPads, that equip sales associates with the real-time access to product knowledge and inventory information they need to provide accurate and helpful suggestions that are tailored to each customer. Additionally, the use of technology also enables the associates to virtually showcase items that aren’t in-store, and allow their customers to swipe through products and images for an immersive and visual experience.

Broadening the range of options for customers to explore also entails ensuring they are available to them. Choosing mobile technology that also enables omnichannel ordering means that associates can place orders for products from anywhere in the retailer’s network and get them into the customers’ hands without hassle.

Let’s paint a picture of what that looks like: Travis walks into a luxury luggage store looking for a new carry-on. He’s into streetwear and loves leather and bold colors and patterns. After greeting Travis and learning that he’s looking for something lightweight with a good amount of storage space, the associate, Iman, takes a look on her iPad and finds a few options that might fit Travis’ criteria. She showcases two tan floor models for him to test and virtually showcases a third option that is currently out-of-stock. After deciding on one of the floor models, Travis wants to know if they have it in any other colors and is delighted to learn the brand has a new line of graphic patterns that hasn’t yet been released in-store. He selects the orange and green checkered leather print suitcase and is able to order it to be delivered to his apartment next week.

Empower sales associates to take an omnichannel and personal approach to selling

In the era of digitization, retail associates are required to bridge the gap between online and offline interactions that a customer has with a brand, including sales they may not have been a part of. This is because customers expect brands to see them in an omnichannel way, just as they do the brand. No one specifies “I got this on TUMI dot com” versus “I got this at TUMI in-store”, so why do retailers see the distinction between online and in-person sales?

To address this challenge, retailers are equipping their store associates with tools to track customer activities in both their online and physical stores including the items purchased and added to wishlists. Additionally, retailers provide associates with the means to proactively reach out to customers through channels like SMS, email, or social platforms to follow-up with purchases and inform them of new arrivals, sales, or restocked items. Leading retailers also enable functions like appointment booking to help associates encourage in-store visits where they can showcase products in person.

Let’s look at Travis and Iman again: It’s been 9 months since Travis bought his carry-on with Iman, but she can see from his profile that he’s been visiting the online store frequently and has made two additional purchases. She also sees several duffel bags saved in his online wishlist, including one that has been out-of-stock for weeks. Using her store’s real-time inventory, Iman sees a recent inventory shipment for the out-stock item that has yet to be unpacked. Seizing the opportunity, she reaches out to Travis via SMS, informing him of the new arrivals and suggesting he book an in-store appointment to come see them. Travis eagerly schedules the appointment the next day. 

Bringing it all together

The convergence of technology and the retail workforce is ushering in a new era of efficiency, responsiveness, and customer-centricity. 

By embracing these technological trends, retailers are not just upgrading their associates; they are future-proofing their businesses and ensuring a seamless and satisfying shopping experience for consumers in the evolving retail landscape.

Learn more

Want to learn more about how technology can future-proof your retail associates along with the benefits and best practices?

Checkout The future of retail technology, an eBook that covers the state of retail, how to perfect your CX, and takes a deep dive into next-gen technology.

Or, contact us today to learn more about Tulip’s best-in-class Clienteling and POS capabilities that are loved by the world’s most iconic retailers like David Yurman, Versace, Jimmy Choo, Mulberry, Saks Fifth Avenue, Ferragamo, COACH, and Michael Kors.

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