How Stores are Turning their Associates into Personal Stylists
Retailers are transforming their associates into influencers and tastemakers through technology and a relationship-based sales culture.
By Dorea Novaez, Contributor @ Endear
From Instagram influencers, to subway ads and the rotating window displays along your morning commute, there are a plethora of options vying for the attention of modern consumers. But it’s not enough just to be seen. How do you get noticed?
Back to Basics: Customer Service
The answer, in fact, is nothing new. It’s your people.
And in a world dominated by headlines about the latest round of store closings, it’s more important than ever to get back to basics - good old fashioned customer service.
Consumers are looking for a curated and personally tailored experience when they make choices about what to purchase, and of course, repurchase. This goes beyond product assortment, merchandising, store layout, or the user interface of your website, to the fresh and creative outlook of a retailer's staff.
Stylists and Tastemakers
No one knows your customers better than your associates. And it's their intimate knowledge and repeated interactions that builds influence and a culture of relationship-based sales. Businesses thriving in the modern retail landscape are capitalizing on this fact by empowering their associates with the technological tools they need to excel as personal stylists and tastemakers.
As stylists and tastemakers, associates focus on customizing selections, curating the best of the best as defined for each individual customer, highlighting key trends and new merchandise, and driving traffic and sales through clienteling efforts rather than relying solely on organic foot traffic. This sales approach builds trust, excitement, and a cycle of repeat business.
By acknowledging sales associates’ expertise and rewarding it with more autonomy, and increased compensation in many cases, retailers can create an environment that encourages employees to stay for the long term, not only reducing the costs of churn but also reinforcing the relationships they build with customers.
Best in Show: A Personal Shopping Experience
Industry leaders in this arena include Nordstrom, with in-store fashion and beauty stylists, Sephora, and J.Crew. In home decor, West Elm offers personalized service to assist with product selection, design, and installation. The "Design Crew" is available across their portfolio of brands including Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma Home as well, at no charge to customers.
A number of other retailers, such as Bluemercury and Saks Fifth Avenue, have staffed their e-commerce channels with expert advisors ready to chat and guide shoppers in their path to purchase.
Embracing Technology in Retail
Reinvigorating the retail space with a sense of pride and ownership among sales staff is key. And technological solutions are making this transition seamless for retailers, enabling them to deliver tailored-service elements efficiently and profitably, all without sacrificing any data about or oversight of their customers. Our retail customers at Endear have found success using this model, arming their associates with a powerful set of selling tools, including:
- Virtual lookbooks
- Customized e-mail messaging with clickable content
- Client lists and sorting tools
- Client purchase history
- Reminders and task lists
Utilizing the human capital they already have in their stores has allowed these retailers to drive new and repeat business and achieve a level of personalized customer service that modern consumers demand. This is essential to success in today's crowded retail landscape and easier to get started with than you might think.