10 Operational Headaches Endear Solved in Retail
In the early days of Endear, we uncovered a ton of overlooked but immensely impactful problems that prevented associates from doing their best work. Here's how we solved them.
Sometimes when you're building a product, it's not about creating something completely novel (adoption would be terrible). Instead, it's better to first consider the obvious, "low-hanging fruit" problems that your customers can't solve on their own. We learned this lesson first hand in the early days of Endear.
Before we started building anything, we spent a lot of time speaking to our target audience. It became clear very quickly that retail associates had a lot of logistical obstacles and hurdles that stood in the way of how well they could do their jobs. Try as they might, without any tech solution, many of our future users were stuck in the stone age of physical notebooks, pen, and paper at the same time that their customers were flocking to e-commerce.
Endear is all about moving retail forward, we also knew that overlooking pre-existing pain points that may have seemed small on the surface could also limit user interest. A solution to a pre-existing problem is often more welcome than an entirely new approach to a job that also comes with a learning curve.
The immediate problems we solved are not the reasons a brand is interested in using Endear, but we believe they are part of why adoption is so rapid.
Problem 1: Limited number of clients to clientele
It has become harder and harder for stores to rely on organic foot traffic in order to reach their monthly goals. With that in mind, many associates take it upon themselves to clientele so that they can better predict and ensure both traffic and sales. The problem we saw early on is that without a CRM like Endear, associates only felt comfortable reaching out to customers they were closest with - ones who had expressly asked to be contacted about a specific product, or ones who shopped so often that it was only natural to have their contact info. That meant that any time something news-worthy would happen at a store, most associates would repeatedly reach out to the same dozen or so clients - and of course all of these conversations lived within an associate's personal phone if they were texting with that customer.
Endear's Solution: A proper Retail CRM
Just because a customer is shy doesn't mean she doesn't want to hear from you or your retail team. For the first time, store associates can use actual data (contact info, geographic location, shopping frequency, product preferences) to determine who to reach out to based on the content they want to share. By broadening the size of audience for store associates to reach out to, Endear also enables associates to target the right customers based on the content they want to share rather than sending every message to the same few customers.
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Problem 2: No awareness of other stores' clienteling activity
The beauty of a strong brand is that your customers will seek out your store in every city they visit. That means that as you open up more locations, customers may build unique relationships with each of your store teams. While that's great news overall, you run the risk of overwhelming customers - getting a note about your brand's latest product drop from three different salespeople makes for a pretty lousy experience.
Endear's Solution: Consolidate outreach history
In Endear, every store is represented by a team, but all the teams exist within one Endear account. This structure means we can tell every user the last time a customer in their brand-wide CRM was contacted, and by whom. Associates can even see messages that their colleagues in other cities sent to make sure no one is repeating what the customer has already heard. While customers like having a unique relationship with each store, having a tool like Endear means that your brand can still ensure that the customer is getting top-notch service without getting bombarded.
Problem 3: Store-only order history
When we spoke to associates about what details were most important about their customers, logically they told us it was their order history. But they also told us that a lot of the time, they could only see what a customer purchased at their exact location, and sometimes reviewing this data was so cumbersome that many took to recording their top customers' purchases on their own (in a notebook or google sheet). The inefficiency of this approach was one thing - but what frustrated us even more was that a customer's order history was there, in one way or another, it was just not being shared with retail teams.
Endear's Solution: Omnichannel purchase tracking
By integrating with a brand's e-commerce and POS system, we're able to give each user a comprehensive list of every item a customer has ever purchased (even before they installed Endear), no matter where the transaction occurred. At a minimum, this order history prevents associates from recommending items the customer has already bought. But the upside is infinite! Most importantly, associates can track a customer's true lifetime value and use these insights to better determine which customers are at risk of lapsing and which are the most engaged. Teams also now have all the data they need to understand what types of items or price points a customer is interested in purchasing in-store vs online and can find out if customers have different styles based on where they are located or what season it is.
Problem 4: No access to assets
Brands that sell online invest heavily in high-quality product photos. They capture every product in different layouts and on different models so that e-commerce customers have an endless supply of content to inform their purchase - now sometimes even in the form of video! But before we came along, these assets were exclusive to e-commerce - admittedly, not always by choice. It may not have been clear why a retail team would need these assets - customers were seeing the product in person, why would associates need access to product photos? Plus, manually uploading every asset to a shared folder was too inefficient to manage long-term.
Associates often need to use this type of imagery in order to entice customers to come visit in the first place. But without access to these high-production images, they would instead send pictures of clothes on hangers or selfies of themselves in the products. They'd send these images one after another, sometimes a dozen at a time. Of course, these products were not linked, no title, no price, no information whatsoever.
Endear's Solution: Lookbooks & linked products
Endear's first built-out product was our Lookbooks module, which allows any user to put together a landing page of curated products to suit a single customer or group of customers' preferences. Created in mere seconds thanks to a live feed of a brand's assets, lookbooks also automatically include product titles and pricing, and auto-link to the products' e-commerce pages. For our users, the ability to create lookbooks or even simply insert a product into their outreach with all this data associated dramatically expedites the recommendation process, making it easy to provide this level curation for a wide audience. This structure also speeds up the customer's decision-making process and limits the number of steps to purchase.
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Not quite sure what we mean? We can email you a lookbook built in Endear so that you see if our solution could be a good fit for your team.
Problem 5: Stale data
When we asked potential users how they determined which customers to contact, many said that they would receive a static report at the beginning of the month from the corporate team. Then over the course of the month, they'd gradually reach out to these customers. Here's the problem: between the time it takes to compose this report, distribute it to stores, and then actually reach out to customers, the data is stale and does not allow the sender to confidently incorporate any of the insights into his or her outreach.
Endear's Solution: Real time integrations & dynamic reporting
There's no doubt that thanks to POS's and e-commerce platforms, there's almost too much data to take into consideration when practicing clienteling. But Endear's segments enable store associates to put together dynamic lists of customers for a specific purpose, such as sending thank-you notes. Segments update in real-time based on new customer behavior so that associates can keep up with activity as quickly as it takes place. Some of our most popular filters to layer together include a customer's most recent purchase location, what items they've ordered, or even what promo codes they've used.
Problem 7: Store-only commissions
Store associates dedicate a lot of time and effort to motivate a customer to purchase something. However, their capacity and enthusiasm is capped by an unnecessary limitation: their commission potential. Until Endear, most associates were disincentivized to encourage online purchases because they wouldn't get credit for the sale and, as a result, also miss out on commissions. If an associate is not willing to generate a sale, even if it means it happens online, neither they nor the brand they work for are truly reaching maximum performance. Without the opportunity to benefit from online purchases, there's very little motivation for an associate to work with customers interested in shopping online.
Endear's Solution: Omnichannel attribution
The in-store only commission structure should be a relic of the past. But it has stuck around largely due to a lack of technology, not a lack of interest. When we ask potential customers if they offer commission for online sales, we hear all the time, "We wish we could, we just don't know how." But with Endear, store associates can email and text with customers, send them products, and rest assured that no matter where the customer purchases, they will receive recognition for their contribution. Over time, we've continued to improve our attribution model, also enabling brands to customize the exact terms of what should "count" as having driven a sale, based on level of engagement (clicks, opens, responses) and days to convert.
Find out your ROI
Thanks to our omnichannel sales tracking, we know every customer's return on their investment in Endear. We can even predict yours! Find out how much your team could be generating in sales on Endear with our ROI calculator.
Problem 8: Data protection
The more associates rely on their own devices, the less protected customer data becomes and the less control a brand has over what is said to its customers. And while turnover at any company is inevitable, the big problem for stores is that when an associate leaves, she may be taking customer relationships, contact info, or new developments with her. Depending on what an associate has access to, there may be even riskier outcomes at stake.
Endear Solution: Trackable activity
Endear's centralized messaging makes it easy to assign clients to associates, but should an associate leave, Endear also ensures that the entire conversation history stays with the brand. Admins can deactivate users at any time, and new users can take over pre-existing conversations and make surethat customers don't get left hanging.
Problem 9: Store reporting
When we spoke to retail decision makers, one question we frequently asked was, "How do you know what your store teams are up to on a daily basis?" We took a look at some of the reports that store managers were sharing with regional managers or directors of retail and reports were primarily made up of anecdotal stories about customer interactions or general impressions of traffic. This type of reporting makes it nearly impossible to compare different stores' performance or track changes over time.
Endear's Solution: Store analytics
With Endear's reporting, an admin or decision-maker can get an instant understanding of how each location is faring, based on their total message sends, conversions, and dollars driven overall. With this reporting, managers and admins can set realistic goals and expectations around daily user activity.
Problem 10: Performance reviews
Finding time to sit down with every member of your retail team to review their performance on a regular basis can be a challenge. But the problem for associates is it can often be hard to gauge how they stack up compared to their peers. Without a way to keep tabs, their performance can often come down to one number: total in-store sales. That can be a very limited view of someone's contribution, and can also be very discouraging for the individual if they have no course of action through which to improve.
Endear's Solution: Benchmarking & leaderboards
With Endear's platform, every associate can see how many messages she has sent per week, and what is typical for the team overall. These insights can make it easier for both the associate and the manager to address potential issues early on, and provide more time for additional training and support if an associate is not reaching her goals. These performance metrics can also help a manager determine an associate's strengths, and decide what responsibilities to give which salespeople. Most importantly, it enables associates to take ownership over their performance and progress over time.
Endear's mission is to help associates enhance the work they do in order to play an ever-growing role in a brand's success. With the right tools, a sales team can be as powerful online as offline, and make the difference between an average quarter and immense growth and increased customer satisfaction. Learn more about how we can bring your team into the modern era.
Written byLeigh Sevin, Co-Founder @ Endear