Today’s customers have high expectations of digitally enabled sales associates. According to a Forrester Report, when shopping in store:
- 60% of customers expect mobile equipped sales associates to be able to look up product information.
- 58% of customers expect mobile equipped sales associates to be able to check additional store inventory.
Customer expectations such as these mean that retailers, especially in the wireless industry, are introducing Endless Aisle and Dropship technologies in order to satisfy expectations. Products with a lot of specifications or rate plan options can be complicated to sell. These retail technology solutions inform and empower sales associates while giving them access to store and product information; ensuring associates can easily help shoppers find what they are looking for.
However, introducing new technologies poses new challenges: getting sales associates to see the value in these changes and supporting them in using the new technology. On top of new employee training and new product rollouts or phone launches, supporting your sales associates with new systems and processes is difficult, but essential for retailers.
So, how do you ensure the engagement and support of sales associates when your business is implementing new technologies?
1. Talk to employees before you buy.It’s not about your IT team being comfortable with the new technology, they’re the technical ones! Your employees will need to be able to adopt the technology to increase your ROI. Change can easily upset people - managers could see fear, pushback, and naysayers of new technologies or processes. By including them in the decision and understanding their needs or frustrations, employees will feel valued. This will help them feel they are part of the solution as opposed to part of the problem later on.
2. Choose user-friendly technologies.
Ensure the solution is a technology that solves problems but doesn’t require extensive training. Customer-facing technologies should be user-friendly for both the customer and the sales associate and it should be easily integrated into other software systems and processes. The goal should be to remove pain points and speed up the sales and phone activation process. Technology must help customers do what they came to do: find and experience products.
3. Turn the launch into an event.
Generate buzz around the office and have fun with the introduction of new solutions! Workers should attend the technology launch in person if possible, and managers in the company should discuss how the changes will impact their staff. It will be important to show the employees how the new technology will make their lives better. Adding some free swag or a pizza party into the mix never hurt anyone.
4. Training. Training. Training.
High-quality training is critical. Make it flexible and repeat it often. Onboarding packages and training functionality reminders will be important as changes are rolled out. A good retail solutions partner will assist you in launch training and professional services packages including webinars, recordings, and support material. In addition to these resources provided, it will be important to customize your training - many organizations create a company-specific model that combines your brand, processes, and expectations in a way that is easy for associates to remember.
5. Communication is critical.
Start the communication early and ensure regular touchpoints with all the stakeholders. If there are key leaders or stakeholders at each location the technology is being implemented in it will help to keep it top of mind and maintain excitement. Emphasize to your employees that this new tool can help make their work lives easier. Better communication with their customers can mean increased commissions for them! Forcing the technology on them is likely to have an adverse reaction. When they feel like they are a part of the change, they’ll have a sense of ownership over the tool and feel more invested in the success.
6. Celebrate and make it fun.
New technology is meant to help employees improve their processes – it’s here to help! Make a point of celebrating the wins that come from the new tools and actively share the value it’s creating. You can create contests or milestone rewards such as compensation, perks, or recognition for employees who are thriving in this different environment. Often vendors and brands are also willing to provide support with prize packages or seeding of products - it’s a win-win for everyone.
If your store is your biggest physical asset, then your sales associates and their interactions with your customers are one of the most important divers for profitability. A proper rollout of technology will provide a visible return on investment.
Want to learn more about how you can use Endless Aisle in-store as a sales assist? Check out our recent case study.
Photos: Shutterstock / SFIO CRACHO