A blog series on Shopper Marketing

By Cyndi Pyburn

I had a very frustrating shopping experience recently.  I won’t divulge who the offender was, but it left me thinking, are my expectations out of whack?

Here is an example of a recent situation:  I was looking for a ‘Smart TV’, one where I could watch anything and everything, listen to music, access the internet and most importantly for me, I wanted to be able to Skype.  I had done my research.    Thanks to manufacturer and store websites and expert and consumer reviews, I left the house armed with knowledge.  I had the facts, specs, model numbers and my checklist of requirements.  And here was my issue:  I knew more than any sales associate, no matter where I went.  Okay, I may not be smarter but with my internet-savvy research approach and my smartphone-wielding practices, I am likely to be better informed.

I truly expect the sales associate to be highly knowledgeable about every product and where it is located in the store.  So are my expectations out of whack?  I don’t think so.  And neither do great retailers.  In fact, the bricks & mortar retail world is changing rapidly with technology (as are my shopping habits).   They are employing technology to their advantage to equip sales associates to:

  • Scan bar codes to check inventory and availability of items with small mobile devices
  • Use handheld terminals for payment
  • Use tablets for product specifications and store recommendation to associate

By equipping sales folks with the appropriate mobile device, the ROI opportunity looks positive.  According to the Motorola Solutions annual holiday survey issued Jan 14, 2013  four in ten (43%) of the shoppers who were assisted by a sales associate using a mobile device said it improved their shopping experience.  Not only does technology help to make the sales associate ‘smarter’, it quite simply provides the customer with a better experience.

Great retailers are also elevating the in-store experience with both digital and experiential elements:

  • Pinpointing the right assortment strategy for each store
  • Digital displays that impart product knowledge
  • Demo areas for specific types of product

Of course, there is nothing better than interacting with a great sales associate …. an associate who gets to know you, undertakes a needs assessment, offers credible advice and respects you and your time.  It’s more important than ever for retailers to build relationships, create memorable experiences and connect with shoppers.  Surprising and delighting shoppers with ‘real’ experiences and sound advice will build loyalty.  And for me, will hopefully meet and exceed my expectations.