As consumers embrace a return to normalcy, the in-store experience is becoming an even greater driver of customer loyalty, with human interactions holding a huge influence. To win, retailers must reimagine the role of their store associates, leveraging technology to enable people as their greatest asset.
Delivering a unique in-store shopper experience is more essential than ever before as retailers continue to contend with evolving consumer behaviors and technology trends in the post-pandemic era. Store associates have a major role to play in creating meaningful connections with shoppers that will keep them coming back again and again.
Check out these key trends behind the increasing influence of store teams, with further insights here.
- Grocery is still a battle won in-store: In-store shopping within the grocery channel has historically made up 96% of purchases, and even at the height of the pandemic, e-commerce peaked at a mere 7.4% of all grocery sales. Consumers are eager to get out of the house and touch & feel products again, with 78% of consumers planning to shop more in-store this year than last.
- In-store experiences drive customer loyalty: Amid shortages, restrictions and expanded omni-channel offerings, 3 out of 4 consumers changed stores, brands, or the way they shopped during the pandemic. The experience delivered in-store is more essential than ever in differentiating your offering, with 90% of consumers attesting they are more likely to return and 61% likely to spend more if they have a positive shopping experience.
- Store teams are essential to shopper experience: Recent survey data ranked 'quality of service from staff' as a hallmark of a positive in-store experience, only second to 'availability and variety of product.' Store associates have the unique ability to recognize and respond to shopper needs on the spot, offer recommendations, build rapport, and serve as your best advocate. Customers who interact with highly engaged employees are up to 2.6 times more likely to recommend the retailer.
- Tech to enable people: Retailers should look to invest in technology that enables, not replaces their store associates, employing digital solutions that empower their teams to improve the total shopper experience.
- Store associates take on new roles: By investing in emerging tech to aid in more tedious tasks, retailers can free up store associates' time to take on new roles to enhance the in-store experience: serving as technology advocates, product evangelists, and store execution heroes, among other things.
"There needs to be a shift in thinking, away from store associates being one of your biggest costs, to being an important strategic investment for your organization. By giving them access to information and freeing up their time to be more accessible to your shoppers, their interactions can build long-lasting customer loyalty."
Chairman & CEO of Vestcom
Read the full Vestcom perspective here.