Retail TouchPoints: Associates Duck Consumers Seeking Product Information
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:
- Directing customers to another colleague when they couldn’t answer a question (73 percent), with nearly a third doing this every day;
- Lying about a product of which they weren’t knowledgeable (63 percent), with one in five admitting they lied at least twice a day; and,
- Making excuses to leave a customer unattended on the store floor (48 percent), with more than one in five do this every day.
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.
- 40% Of Consumers Shop Online To Avoid Uninformed Associates – Retail TouchPoints
- Shop Floor Stories – Red Ant
- Salesmen who hide their ignorance: Two thirds admit lying about products – Daily Mail
- Nearly 50% Of Consumers Believe They Are More Informed Than Store Associates – Retail TouchPoints
- 2012 Holiday Shopper Study – Motorola
Is equipping associates with tablets enough to offset product knowledge challenges facing store staff? What other steps could be taken to teach and incentivize staff members to become better informed? Is the bigger opportunity investing in tools to provide shoppers to further access the information themselves?