The ‘new’ role of the Store-associate

Store-associates are unquestionably at the center of the physical store experience, representing the Retailer, their values and the brands/products sold; that’s why one of the most important rules in retail states: “How sales personnel engage Shoppers can make or break a retail store.

How those interactions work will in the end determine if Shoppers will make purchases and suggest our stores to their friends, family and colleagues… …or leave, maybe never to return again – that’s why I strongly believe that Store-associates are tremendous influencers of buying decisions.

Fortunately most Retailers take to heart this notion and typically make sure their Store-associates demonstrate effective product knowledge, spending much money on product-training – by the way, this is one of the few topics where brands (“Manufacturers”) and pure Retailers (“Distributors/Merchants”) don’t clash – it is in their mutual best interest that Store-associates know everything about the products they are selling.

As a matter of fact, Retailers can use specialized knowledge to convey trust and enhance the shopping-experience: the goal is not just to sell, but to sell AND to make Shoppers’ lives simpler and better-off; Shoppers crave simplicity, personalization, transparency and a human touch from their brick-and-mortar visits – what they really want is having friction removed (“friction” is anything that comes in the way of Shoppers’ ability to achieve their objectives).

As a matter of fact, the main goals of a Shopper are:

– satisfy her primary needs (…I am a fan of Maslow)

– spend wisely (…pay the right price, don’t waste money…)

– save time (…because time is the scarcest resource…)

– feel unique and valued (…”I deserve it!”…)

Therefore, any *effective* shopper-oriented retail activity must take into account – first and foremost – those four goals.

Let’s bear in mind that Shoppers visit our stores for the kind of assistance and empathy they can’t – obviously – get from an Ecommerce site; that’s why Store-associates need to become part curators, part product-gurus and part brand ambassadors.

Andy Cavallini  –


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