As major retailers close stores on a regular basis, speculation about the demise of brick-and-mortar continues to grow. But the reality is that physical stores aren’t going away.
Retail is simply evolving with the rise of the increasingly online and mobile consumer.
Omnichannel, speed, convenience, five-star experiences: Demands of the modern shopper
Today’s buyers expect speed and convenience when they shop, whether online or in a physical store, and are quick to switch brands if their experience falls short.
This new breed of customer is forcing consumer product companies to rethink how they approach retail execution.
Consider this scenario: A shopper receives a promotional email for a new toothpaste offering a discount. They download the coupon to their phone, but upon arrival at the store, can’t find the promotion. A store manager says it hasn’t yet been set up. Irritated, they grab another brand of toothpaste from the shelf.
Or think of the consumer who wants to see if a particular product is in stock, but isn’t able to check inventory online. So they head to the store, only to find empty shelves. According to Business Insider, this is a recurring problem at Whole Foods.
How do manufacturers avoid this kind of retail debacle? What can they do to provide the “always-on” consistent, compelling retail store experience consumers expect?
Creating the perfect in-store retail experience
Here’s one practical solution: Equip sales reps in the field to ensure customers have a positive experience with your brand.
Begin by making sure your territory and account assignments are optimized with artificial intelligence to ensure coverage based on drive time, segment knowledge, and customer relationships.
With strategic territory assignment and the right tools, you make it easy for sales reps to maximize their time and plan their daily visits.
When reps visit each store in their territory, make sure promotions are set up correctly and their conversion rates are healthy. On subsequent visits, surveys ensure promotional displays still set up properly, shelves are stocked, and cross and upsell opportunities are presented.
Repping your brand: Empowered sales professionals drive CX
A sales rep can take a photo of a store display with their phone or tablet, and using natural language processing and artificial intelligence, get recommendations improvements so it conforms with planograms for promotions and displays.
They also can use their mobile device in the store to order additional inventory if shelves are looking bare, recommending other products to offer to the store manager.
With sales tools that incorporate analytics, a rep could suggest an additional product based on what’s sold well at a store or complementary products that sell well together. Tight integration with backend finance and supply-chain systems enables them to complete orders on site.
If sales reps need to brush up on a product, they can easily take a training session or look up sales enablement collateral on their phone in the store or between visits.
Tools that support offline access ensure that the sales rep can work inside of buildings without WiFi access, which can be common in retail stores with concrete ceilings.
Altogether, when your sales reps aren’t slowed down by access issues or wasting time on a lot of manual work in the field, they’re happier and more productive.
This ensures your customers have the best experience possible with your brand at the store to drive interest and sales.
Modern retail is all about the consumer
Today’s leading consumer products companies are consumer driven. They focus on personalizing customer engagement and offering alternative paths to purchase, providing ideal retail environments both online and in physical stores.
It’s all about having the right product at the right price and right time.
By taking an integrated approach that leverages sales, service, and marketing insights, manufacturers get the 360-degree view of the customer that fuels an engaging experience. A holistic retail strategy ensures operational efficiency to drive revenue and growth.
The doomsayers have it all wrong: With the right approach, the retail store can remain a very relevant part of the consumer experience for the foreseeable future.