The total upheaval of the retail industry over the past several months has made the industry question just about everything. While some stores are just starting to get back on their feet, and others are in a state of flux, it’s still important to be thinking about the next steps. As customers begin to return, the first few weeks will be critical for reminding customers why they came to shop with you in the first place. Even so, retail will look quite different for a while.

Customers have been used to shopping exclusively online but the truth is, most people miss shopping in stores. They miss the one-on-one interaction and the expertise that comes with shopping among a store associate. It’s important to remember that retail is as much or more about engaging with an associate than it is about the products themselves. So what are the important trends that retailers and brands should be focusing on?

Shopping will become more intentional

For those shoppers who do choose to return to a store, shopping will become a lot more purposeful and intentional. Customers will enter your store with a category or item in mind and they’ll be looking to your sales team now more than ever to help them make a quick, educated decision about what to buy.

Put an emphasis on the personal service element of shopping in-store. Make sure that your employees are actively approaching the customers and providing them with assistance as soon as they need it. Make sure you have updated information about your most loyal customers and go the extra mile with customized recommendations or samples.

Pivot your top sales associates to support digital

Chances are, you won’t be able to rehire or retain your entire in-store staff. So, what should you do with the rest of your talented sales team? Bring them online and integrate them into the digital sales experience through real-time, on-demand, customized experiences. By bringing human interactions to online shopping, you’re creating a lot of the same engagements as an in-person experience and taking away the impersonal, and mostly sterile, nature of online purchasing.

Your retail sales associates are already the face of your brand and your top brand ambassadors, so by pivoting them to virtual sales associates and live chat agents, you’re simply shifting them to online influencers. By letting them promote and demo products virtually, you are enabling your top sales associates to help customers and extending your brand experience online.

Curbside pickup will continue to be important

Hand-in-hand with online shopping has been curbside pickup. Many major retailers had made the leap to curbside pickup as a means to serve customers in a safe manner while maintaining social distancing. Even as stores continue to reopen, online shoppers who don’t feel comfortable returning to in-store shopping yet will continue to rely on curbside pickup.

When done right, curbside pickup can help you to continue to build a brand and increase customer loyalty. A shopper’s end-to-end buying experience drives their loyalty to a brand. Retailers that deliver a positive buying experience will gain and retain their customers. This calls for a customer-centric, flexible and easy transaction during curbside pickup.

While customers aren’t physically entering your store, it still gives your sales associates an opportunity to select custom samples or include educational materials on your product if need be. Every interaction is still a chance to build customer loyalty.

Retail Needs Top Sales Associates, Now More Than Ever

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