While the past few years have been clouded by talk of a ‘retail-apocalypse’, the recent temporary closures of many retail locations has brought into focus just how false this narrative has been.

If anything, we can all see now just how important retail is and the human interactions that come along with it. Without these brick-and-mortar experiences, shopping is just a transaction on a screen. Quality one-on-one interactions and experiences at retail have been, and will always be, important. We are reminded of that now more than ever. Now that we don’t have them, it’s amazing how much we miss the human connections that are part of our daily routines with many of those interactions take place in retail stores.

But those interactions don’t just happen, they need quality sales associates to connect and educate customers. No matter how convenient online shopping can be, customers still want to shop for many products in a store. They want to see a product in person, try something on, purchase something quickly, and get advice from these experts. The in-store experience offers a level of personal service that simply can’t be found online. Since these direct interactions have been put on hold, we can see just how critical they are to the shopping experience.

Now is the time for brands and retailers to re-strategize and make sure that they are doing everything they can to make sure their sales associates are ready to return and nurture customers. If you’re a brand ask yourself; how are you helping your sales associates be product experts and adding value by creating customer relationships? Take this time to train and regroup with your teams. Make sure sales teams are ready to hit the ground running and are all on the same page when it comes to products and company policies.

Customers want a sales experience that’s tailored to them without all of the noise, and impersonalization, of online shopping. If they come into your store expecting to learn from your salespeople, then your salespeople better be there to deliver. It’s time to reset the bar on what is provided to your customers when they walk in the door. Retail will restart, and when it does, those who are at the ready with actionable plans for their sales associates will be setting themselves up for success.

Dear Retail, We Miss You

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