Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the Retail TouchPoints website.
Nearly 50 percent of consumers believe their personal mobile devices are more efficient than store associates in helping them make buying decisions, according to Motorola's 2012 Holiday Shopper Study. A new study from Red Ant, the digital retailing consultancy, confirmed that many in-store employees possess a similar sentiment, and often go out of their way to avoid customer questions.
In fact, 67 percent of consumers noticed a lack of product knowledge from in-store associates, with 40 percent of people shopping online to avoid poor customer service, according to Red Ant in the survey of more than 1,000 store associates in the U.K. Designed to identify store associates' frustrations with their current positions, survey results showed that 47 percent of employees were unfamiliar with the products they were selling.
"Many retailers are failing to spot this problem," said Dan Mortimer, CEO of Red Ant. "It's not necessarily about giving consumers the tools to access the information themselves, it's about using technology to enable employees to provide a more valuable, enjoyable experience and keep customers coming back for more."
A lack of comprehensive training may be a factor to blame for the poor product knowledge, according to the Red Ant research. As many as 74 percent of frontline staff said they believe employers can do more to improve familiarity with store merchandise. In fact, 58 percent of employees said they received less than two hours training in their current positions. Half (50 per cent) said their lack of product knowledge had left them embarrassed, with 46 percent admitting to being shy or nervous when dealing with customers. Thirty-one percent believed having a tablet with them on the sales floor would help provide more in-depth product information.
The Red Ant study also revealed some of the top tactics store associates used to deflect customer attention, including:
Other methods included pretending to be busy with another task, hiding at the back of the store, going to the restroom, pretending to feel ill, telling them the product they're interested in is out of stock, pretending to be busy doing something else, and suggesting they visit another store instead.
For retailers, is the bigger payback providing store associates or shoppers with more tools to gain in-store access to product information?