The past 18 months have reshaped many industries, especially retail. As consumer expectations continue to evolve and many expect online shopping to increase as the recovery period progresses, retailers will need to meet consumers where they are, which will depend heavily on the market. composition of the workforce and the role of the store associate. Retailers are already making the shift, as shown in the McKinsey survey, where 76% of U.S. apparel executives said they plan to improve omnichannel integration in stores. For this reason, we must appreciate and invest in the in-store associates who are the driving force behind today’s retail landscape.
The pandemic has accelerated the capabilities of omnichannel retail solutions to levels never seen before. With the role that e-commerce has played in obsolescence of the traditional view of the “four-wall economy” and m-commerce retail sales in the United States are expected to nearly double by 2025, the need for for retailers to effectively equip those who have the ability to exercise and leverage these omnichannel capabilities – the in-store associates – is more important than ever. The New Way to Shop Through Store Associate Empowerment has finally come to fruition, years ahead of schedule.
With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, this is in stark contrast to years past when many retailers were reluctant to invest in omnichannel capabilities. However, last holiday season they were forced to expand their virtual selling capabilities and are now confident, prepared and more developed in their offerings and expertise. Retailers have witnessed the opportunity that lies in an omnichannel model and there is no turning back. The once-seen customer experiences, social media engagement, endless aisle, live and video dating, BOPIS, and curbside pickup are now mainstream sales vehicles.
So what’s the secret sauce behind the omnichannel engine? Store associates. Last year, store associates were hailed as heroes for being frontline workers, which is why businesses have come to terms with the fact that they can’t function without them. The acceleration of omnichannel retail has evolved the role of the in-store associate for the better. Once viewed as a startup or summer job, it has now evolved into an entrepreneurial role that requires a diverse skill set. Today’s store associates not only need to be on the cutting edge of technology, they also need to be friendly and knowledgeable about the retailer’s selection and offerings. The associate is now leveraging his network, from welcoming a customer who walks into his store, to communicating on his social media network and suggesting items.
At Salesfloor, we empower the store associate from the start in the best possible way: by providing them with the right technology to better equip them to do their jobs. We understand that without the Store Associate, service isn’t as personalized and customer loyalty isn’t as high. They are a step-by-step companion, fashion expert and unlimited source of knowledge throughout the buying process. By empowering the store associate, forward-thinking retailers have seen their sales soar both in-store and online, as they both contribute to the same bottom line – a realization many have recently woken up to.
As we approach the 2021 holiday season and head into 2022, we need to recognize how essential the role of the store associate is in retail and celebrate these people, as we recently saw. done with our second annual Fellows of the Year award. Retail is not going anywhere, and neither is the Store Associate, but they will grow and strengthen together. The store associate will only become more important as the industry progresses. It is time we started to realize this.
Oscar Sachs is the CEO and co-founder of Salesfloor, a mobile customer and point-of-sale platform for store associates.