By Steve Ingram, Retail Director – KIT.

For almost 12 months, the retail sector has had to face up to and address a continual series of challenges. However, through technology and by taking an innovative approach, many brands we know and love continue to operate in some shape or form. We discussed in a previous blog how Clienteling, driven by the power of communication, has evolved and expanded the simple Click & Collect method of retail shopping. How new ideologies such as BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-up in Store), ROPIS (Reserve Online, Pick-up in Store) and even Curbside Pick-up have become part of the new normal, but what about the role of the Store Associate during these uncertain times?

The vast majority of Store Associates are working from home in one form or other (at the time of writing). However, remote selling is not a new phenomenon or just a reaction to government restrictions but an already strategic way of providing a personalised way to access the brand. Clienteling and Assisted Selling tools have helped drive Store Associates sales for several years already; remote selling is very much the here and now. As online is convenient and currently the dominant way to shop, it will certainly not be leaving us any time soon.

Merging e-commerce with the familiarity of bricks and mortar

An excellent way of merging the online with the in-store experience is giving customers instant access to a Store Associate through video calling technology. In the UK, Currys PC World (for one), best known for white goods and electronics, offers the option to request a video call with one of its team without even the need to register as a customer. These could be existing Store Associates or Contact Centre Associates, depending upon the business’s desires. You can see and hear the Store Associate whilst providing the same experience you would expect when being escorted around the store. Answering product questions, providing alternatives, helping with the purchase and delivery options and even offering advice if a tradesperson is needed to install the said item. The approach is not limited to video calls. Communication methods, such as WhatsApp or SMS, can also help bridge the gap.

New customers are provided with the same experience as if they were in the store. Returning, previously registered customers have so much more to benefit from remote selling. Store Associates have pre-visit awareness of a customer’s needs. They will also usually have access to any ‘wish lists’ created online. During the visit conversation, Store Associates provide a one-to-one interaction to curate a unique experience. Guided browsing, product recommendations based on previous purchase history, and even styling suggestions. There is also the post-visit engagement opportunity to discuss the purchase, as well as suggesting complementary products.

KIT is a Clienteling and Assisted Selling tool that enables Store Associates to offer customers the remote, personalised shopping service described above. They are maximising empathy and engagement through video calling and a passion for the brand they represent.

Allowing the customer to experience in-store browsing with their personal tour guide – shopping the brand by integrating ‘bricks and clicks’ – is at the core of KIT. Shopping does not just need to be personal; it needs to be personable too.