In recent years, retailers have primarily tied to invest in their eCommerce by adopting innovative web and mobile technologies to make it more relevant and personal to the online customer experience. But with the evolution of consumption and the emergence of a demand for unified experience, so omnicanale, retailers are turning again today to their physical stores trying to evaluate the best way to harness the wealth and potential ... potential pure players have not and they suffer.
Indeed, a study presented by userADgents in September 2015, shows that while 47% of respondents say they go to shop less often than 5 years ago, we must not forget that 90% of purchases are still engaged in physical sales points. And address multiple critical customers, such as product not always available and not always well-informed sellers, the store and the customer experience must "reinvent". If we add to this commercial rents constantly increasing which make stress even stronger profitability of retail space, the need for change becomes essential.

Meet the off and on-line
In a digital age, it's easy to be blinded by the illusions of automation and self-service - but it is quite clear that it is the physical store is and will remain at the heart of customer engagement. By making available their store employees real-time customer information and inventory levels, and in developing new services and payment models, signs will be better able to transform the customer experience and reinvigorate the act of purchase in stores.
Trade has certainly always evolved, but the profound changes in the purchasing behavior of consumers over the past two decades now incentive to rethink the role of the traditional store. And although today nobody believes the store threatened by the internet, the fact remains that these two mutually reinforcing channels must work together in terms of proposed experience.

The quality of experience
The essential aspect of this evolution of the store lies primarily in the change to be made in the role of the shop assistant. Indeed, for the majority of sellers, the only way of information is often the same website that the client has already seen before coming. Without the ability to bring additional value to the interaction with the customer, the risk is great to disappoint.
And believe that the problem will be avoided by adding digital terminals with free access or simple web tablets in the hands of the sellers is a serious mistake. This will only transform the store into an 'ATM' with prohibitive rental and maintenance costs. This approach fails to maximize the value of the investment in the store and omits one essential point: consumers still want to enjoy a real human shopping experience.

The fact that 77% * of buyers think they know more about the products and services of the shop that the employee is a strong sign for retailers. Faced with informed consumers, employees must take a step ahead. And the idea is not to learn the sheets by heart ... but to use the information available to the company on its customer to offer him a much more personalized experience.
Let me explain: employees need to have an overview of all stock in the distribution network and especially the 'available for sale'. They then have the option to reserve or to transfer it easily stock to satisfy customer demand and save the sale. They also need to have a full and quick view of customer transactions: what he bought online, in stores, its wishlists, product recommendations, etc ... These three major needs, once satisfied, combine to offer personalized and consistent customer reception that moves for shopping: what he experienced online (personalization, targeted suggestions, multiple delivery options, etc ...), it also offers him the store!
Retailers must now give the opportunity to their store employees to transfer to the sales area the same comfort as that proposed online. For example, we need to allow a client, in a single store visit and a single transaction: purchase an item available in the shop to be send home another article available in another store of the sign, while performing the return from a previous purchase made online. Only by being able to offer this degree of fluidity that the customer experience is of high quality. And it is to this ideal that must reach new store experience.

Culture store
However, although technology clearly plays a key role in managing the complexity of these scenarios and in the empowerment of the employee in the store, it is just part of a whole. Indeed, retailers must also ensure that the sales consultants have the skills to engage with customers. If the store clerk has to spend more time behind a screen as talking to the customer, both parties will be frustrated. Retailers must combine intuitive technology with an education that will help the employee in making contact with a customer taking advantage of all available information.
They must also take into account the culture of the company and do not underestimate the importance of change management to support store employees in the evolution of their profession. Fees and bonuses must also be redesigned to reflect the nature of omnicanale sales, and not just in-store purchases. It is also essential in this business constantly changing as the employee experience is continuously evaluated and improved. For example, deploying a click & collect service shop can increase online sales by 20%, but what is the impact on store employees said the new strategy? How does it change their daily tasks? Are they rewarded for management to serve - or feel they simply away customers because they do not know what is in the package prepared for the warehouse? ...
Indeed, the way employees interact with customers will be significantly influenced by the layout of the store. With tablets that both provide information and allow the realization of the transaction throughout the sales area, is it necessary to continue to confine sellers behind a counter? Would they not more productive and engaging while in the store direct contact with the customer? Undoubtedly, these aspects of the strategy will evolve as the quality of customer interactions will change - and different customer groups show different preferences. The key is to provide flexibility in the role of the employee in the store to create the best ever commitment to the customer.

How retail store is proposed is in complete transformation and responsibility for the realization of a number of new initiatives depend on the employee store. Devalue these individuals to cut costs can only affect the customer experience. Retailers must give their field staff a combination of skills, tools and technologies in order that the employee be able to dialogue with the customer efficiently and "save the sale". This will also add value to the interaction: brand loyalty and brand, increase the amount of the basket or by additional cross-selling, etc.
We are entering an era where customer expectations are ever increasing. Retailers must look beyond the simple fact of having to manage the cost of the complexity of a omnicanale transformation. They must capitalize on their employees by providing new skills to deliver a whole new level of personalized experience. A competent employee, committed, motivated and self is the key to ensure that customers have the same store service quality as other sales channels - and to sustainably transform the future of commerce.

source: by Remy Malchirand, CEO of Manhattan Associates France (August 3rd 2016)