More than ever before, the retail store associate plays a vital role — many roles in some cases. Their performance can determine whether a customer develops a lifelong loyalty to a retailer or whether they turn their back on the store for good. This makes it critical for store associates to be trained, educated, and empowered to be brand ambassadors that deliver exceptional experiences that customers crave.
In our new guidebook, Adapting the Role of the Associate at the Retail POS, we explore the critical role of the store associate in the delivery of the retailer’s brand and tips for how omnichannel retailers can evolve to fit changing expectations.
One of the first steps for retailers to set themselves up for success is to understand the intent of the journey — what is driving each customer to the store, and what experience they would like to have when they get there. Equally important is what customers want to avoid, and it’s a mistake to think that every customer has the same desired experience. It is helpful for the store associate to understand the customer’s journey and approach accordingly.
We haven’t added or created more resources with the merging of all of these experiences, but we have handed more hats to the store associate extending to the in-store merchandiser, subject matter expert, and brand ambassador. These hats include duties such as checkout, stock room, inventory management, pick up scheduling, digital and store order management, customer service, customer engagement, customer orders, cash management, returns logistics, safety/hygiene patrol, and loss prevention.
So how can retailers empower their associates to become A-players and successful brand ambassadors? It’s all about reducing the technology clutter and getting the right tools into associates’ hands. We can’t expect associates to be Swiss Army knives without making the investments to ensure they’re able to do all these things efficiently, effectively, and aligned with the brand experience.
Empowering the new store associate is not about hiring and forgetting. There must be processes in place, such as KPIs, that ensure employees are on track. If you’re not doing anything to follow up and monitor that things are being executed as expected, you risk the brand experience not being delivered. It also makes for a better environment for the associates when they understand the retailer’s motivation and are fully onboarded to processes. This can also lead to more insightful and beneficial career path discussions, further enhancing job satisfaction and better performance.
One opinion is that the only reason retailers have the digital experience is to drive traffic to the store. There are now huge opportunities to deliver a physical manifesting of those experiences in the store. If the store associate delivers a stellar brand experience, it can lead to the best possible business outcome. Who better to provide a recommendation than a store associate that knows their stuff? The human element is far more powerful than an icon on the side of the screen.
Technology platforms play a role in delivering unified training and performance monitoring. Oracle Retail solutions are designed to work together and provide the associate with the tools they need for success.
Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service empowers retail staff to provide memorable service levels and build strong customer loyalty. The solution provides store associates with seamless inventory visibility, pairing with workflows to provide visibility that allows users to access chain-wide inventory across all channels to fulfill customer needs by delivery, pickup, or shipment. It is easy to learn and allows employees to become productive quickly, resulting in a lower daily operating cost in every store. Whether utilized on the sales floor or in the back office, the Oracle Retail Xstore Point-of-Service user interface is intuitive, mobile-enabled, and efficient.
Oracle Retail Customer Engagement Cloud Services drive incremental revenue and profitability for today’s retail enterprise. The suite delivers a 360-degree view of all the customer’s interactions with the brand, including their purchases, preferences, and behaviors. It is a platform to connect all customer and associate-facing systems in real-time, creating a solid foundation to speak with one voice to customers and empower associates to be excellent brand ambassadors.