The role of the store associate in digital transformation
The role of employees, or store associates, in digital transformation often gets lost amid the focus on the technical aspects of this imperative sweeping across the retail industry. They are not mutually exclusive ideas.
I recently wrote about this subject on BrianSolis.com in a post, “Do employees hold the keys to Customer Experience?” The headline implies that it’s in the face-to-face engagement between store associates and shoppers where traditional retailers have the best opportunity to differentiate from their competition — especially Amazon. It’s the adherence of employees to digital transformation goals that makes or breaks a retailer’s ability to execute on these initiatives. That’s the challenge.
Why is this so important? Consider Amazon’s subtle but obvious moves into physical retail, which I think foreshadows a much greater presence. Although online sales are growing faster, most retail dollars flow through physical stores, so Amazon is wise to strategize how to tap into new wallet share. Yet traditional retailers should be far more expert in face-to-face retail, right?
Two recent news items demonstrate retailers are beginning to recognize associate job satisfaction as a priority:
- Tesco store managers are being encouraged to get into the habit of saying “please” and “thank you” and showing their gratitude for workers in other ways with a goal of “developing a culture of appreciating one another” and ultimately lifting customer service levels;
- J.C. Penney’s store managers are being freed up from some of their office workload, which includes reducing the number of emails they receive from district offices and headquarters, to spend more time with associates after the chain’s customer service scores dropped last year.
While creating seamless shopping experiences is the “new black,” equally important is how retailers equip their employees to be the brand ambassadors necessary to deliver differentiated service in, around and beyond the walls of the store. Making a store associate’s job as easy (and satisfying) as possible is arguably the best way to ensure employees adhere to digital transformation goals.
- Do employees hold the keys to Customer Experience? – Brian Solis
- Tesco wants its managers to start saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to staff – Yahoo Finance
- Why J.C. Penney store managers were receptive to CEO Marvin Ellison’s ‘BS’ – The Dallas Morning News
What roles do store associates and person-to-person interaction play in successfully merging virtual and physical stores? How can retailers help store associates do more to support the digital side of the shopping experience?