Customers entering a store

Perfecting the In-Store Experience: Top Tips from Leading Retailers

23 June 2021

Retail | News & trends

We all know how easy it is to order a product online. Yet customers are still coming into stores - according to Forbes, in-store foot traffic is on the rise, increasing 44% since the start of 2021. This is because physical retail is not just transactional, it’s an experience. For all its convenience, e-commerce can never deliver the same personalized and immersive experiences that some of the best retailers are able to create. 

But in order to stay relevant, they need to constantly be re-evaluating what the customer experience needs to look like. Despite a tough year, retailers have still found innovative ways to continuously improve the service they deliver to customers in-store. We looked at how some leading retailers are perfecting the in-store experience in 2021 and what their top tips are for others.

 

Empower employees with learning tailored to their needs

Retail is facing an employee empowerment crisis. A survey of 1,000 frontline employees found that over a quarter of millennials don’t feel empowered on the job. This is directly reflected in employee engagement: in one study, highly empowered employees showed engagement levels in the 79th percentile, whereas disempowered workers rated in the 24th percentile for engagement. 

What’s the solution?

Learning.

Businesses with a strong learning culture have up to 50% higher employee engagement and retention rates and have a 24% higher profit margin on average than those that don’t. But for employees to learn effectively, they need the right tools.

Related: How to Create a Culture of Learning for Retail Teams

An Example: Tomlinson’s Pet Feed

Healthy pet food retailer Tomlinson’s employees need to have a highly specialized understanding of pet food in order to be able to assist their customers, as having highly knowledgeable, expert staff is part of the Tomlinson’s brand. This means undergoing extensive training and learning fast.

Rather than giving them a hefty training manual, Tomlinson’s have adopted a modern approach to achieving this steep learning curve which employees can get excited about. They found that using gamified, app-based training allows employees to absorb new information easily. A user-friendly design with challenges and leaderboards cultivates competitive spirit amongst employees in a positive way. 

This playful approach boosted adoption of the learning platform by giving employees training that they could ‘sink their teeth into and get excited about’. As Brand Director Kate Knecht explained:

"If you have an employee base that’s used to swiping and scrolling and that’s how they gather their information, and then you pull them into a classroom and sit them down and hand them a pencil and paper, that may not be the way that that generation learns fast, and they may not feel heard, understood and engaged."

Effective training delivered in an engaging format creates empowered, confident employees who will be able to provide a higher quality of customer service which will set your brand apart.

Find out more: Interview: How Tomlinson's Feed Empowers Their Store Teams

 

Maximize visibility to maximize consistency

To provide a consistent customer experience in every store, retailers need to be able to react to problems and be agile. In a fast-paced, ever-changing environment, this means knowing what is happening in stores right now. All too often, by the time HQ are made aware of stumbling blocks, damage has already been done.

An Example: The Kooples 

Investing in a mobile digital workspace has given high-end fashion retailer The Kooples a clear line of sight into every store. Employees send photos of visual merchandising displays and completed tasks to HQ to be approved and HQ provide feedback in real time. This means that HQ can be confident in the knowledge that everything has been executed perfectly in every store.

Maintenance requests are also handled via the mobile platform, so the quality team are instantly made aware when a fault has occurred in-store and can take immediate action to fix it. Problems can be dealt with faster, and teams don’t have to ‘exchange a dozen emails about a burnt out lightbulb’, according to Maxime Cohen, a boutique manager. All requests are dealt with within 24 hours, and swifter responses to maintenance requests improves each boutique’s ability to provide a flawless customer experience that is in keeping with brand standards.

The Kooples have seen their store compliance rate double within 10 months of setting up a digital workspace and the rate of faulty products has decreased by 50%. Having real-time visibility into every store is a huge milestone in the journey to creating a consistent, flawless customer experience in every store across the world.

See how The Kooples benefit from real-time visibility into every store

 

Make training accessible on the job

Store teams need to be able to access training at their point of need. In a busy store, it’s not practical for employees to be sifting through documents or computer files in a back office to find the process instructions they need. To be productive, teams need to be able to access training when and where they need it.

An example: Jules

For fashion retailer Jules, mobile microlearning is the key to providing effective training to teams in each of their 550 stores. Regular, bitesize training that’s accessible from a mobile phone makes learning accessible to every employee at all times, which makes teams more likely to complete it as it does not disrupt the workflow.

Related: A Guide to Microlearning: What It Is and Why Your Employees Need It

With accessible training, Jules’ employees complete an average of 52 training sessions per year per store associate and over 208,000 lessons have been completed so far. According to Christophe Pinçon, Head of Retail Operations, providing digestible chunks of training in the flow of work allows HQ to "provide feedback and train our teams very easily".

 

Make store communications about stores

If you overload employees with a constant stream of emails, communication becomes a chore. Store communications are the lynchpin of a retailer’s strategy. They translate ideas on the drawing board into a reality in stores. If employees feel disengaged from communications, it’s impossible to execute the in-store experience you have envisioned.

An example: Lancome

Iconic beauty brand Lancome have found that switching to a streamlined, user-centered approach has enabled consistent communications between their New York office and store teams across the world. App-based communication channels have allowed them to connect to the entire employee network with targeted messages for different teams. These include breaking news, promotions, company updates, new product launches, and team shout-outs to celebrate successes. 

Lancome has transformed store communications into a constant feedback loop that amplifies the voices of store teams. HQ have the opportunity to communicate directly with beauty advisors on the store floor, as Rosemarie Cirminiello, VP of Learning explains:

"They can give us feedback, they can ask us questions, they feel like they are contributing to the business and the bigger picture. It’s an automatic engagement game-changer."

Switching to interactive, store-focused communications has boosted productivity by removing the need for over 500 emails. Frontline employees now have more time to spend with customers and are kept better informed, so can provide a higher level of customer service!

Find out more about how Lancome drive engagement through communications

 

Boost efficiency with digitized tasks and increase conversions

HQ needs to be able to see that store teams have completed tasks efficiently. Both customer experience and customer safety depend on it: if tasks aren’t completed accurately and efficiently, it takes longer to recall defective products and implement the latest social distancing guidelines. As a result, employees have their hands tied with manual tasks and have a lot less time to spend with customers.

An example: Vitalia 

German health store Vitalia achieves 100% compliance with standards and 100% task completion across their entire store network to ensure a consistent customer experience in every store. 

How do they manage this? 

With digitized processes. 

Headquarters sends instructions for campaigns, promotions and tasks to stores via an interactive app and store teams instantly receive the instructions on their mobile devices and mark tasks as completed once they have carried them out. 

Digitizing these interactions has allowed Vitalia to halve the time it takes to complete processes like recalls and implement campaigns in every store within a day. Before, this would take at least a week.

For retailers, digitized tasks and processes will reduce the time frontline employees need to spend on these monotonous admin tasks and will give them more availability to interact with customers and make sales.

 

YOOBIC helps over 200 retailers and brands level up their in-store experience with digitized tasks, engaging communications and training that’s tailored to the needs of store teams. To see it for yourself, schedule a custom demo!

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