Three key takeaways from Future Stores
Future Stores is one of the leading conferences for retailers, bringing together the best in-store experience leaders from Europe’s most progressive retailers. This year’s event took place at the end of May at Twickenham Stadium in London. The Sitoo team were there alongside 200+ in-store innovators, openly sharing their practical insights on the dos and don’ts to help retailers achieve the best ROI from their store transformation projects.
One of the key themes running through the event was – with rising customer expectations, the need for personalised in-store experiences and the constant wave of digital innovations – it’s now more important than ever to invest in the right new store initiatives in order to remain competitive.
Here are our top three takeaways from Future Stores 2019:
1. Unleash the potential of your staff
People are the most important element of retail. Historically, the main focus of retailers has been on the customer experience but, in 2019, the employee experience is equally important. Happy, engaged and motivated employees will not only provide a better customer experience, they’ll be better at their jobs, more productive, have less sick days and are less likely to leave.
A “store” without store workers is like a vending machine. Your employees are the front line of your brand. Unlocking and unleashing the potential of your staff, having close contact with them and communicating with them effectively should be top of the agenda if you’re a forward-thinking retailer. It’s your staff who can set you apart from your competition and give you the edge. As well as investing in your staff, you should empower them to be on the shop floor, helping and engaging with your customers, rather than being stuck behind a cash register. And it’s here technology can help…
2. Utilize technology
Technology can be the bridge between your employees and your customers, helping you deliver a seamless experience both in-store and online. One of the key messages from Future Stores was technology will enhance the role of your staff, not replace them.
The majority of employees in retail will soon be Millennials – a generation who have grown up with technology at their fingertips. They are tech savvy and used to interacting with multiple channels. They expect to be able to carry out their work duties through a mobile device – whether that’s checking their schedule for when they are working next, helping a customer find an item they are looking for, or checking stock levels and finding out additional information about a product.
Staff are still hindered by not being able to give the right customer experience to consumers due to a lack of technology. Whether it’s technology that allows customer to ‘virtually’ try an item on, order and pick up from anywhere, or simply take payment for goods anywhere in the store – tech can enhance the experience for both customers and employees.
3. Build deeper relationships with customers
The way we shop – and our expectations – as consumers has radically changed. As such, a much deeper relationship with the customer is needed and personalizing their experience is important. Consumers often don’t care where they are shopping from but they expect the shopping experience to be seamless – whether that’s in-store, online or a mixture of the two. For example, If a customer orders a product online, they expect to be able to take it to a store for a refund if required – something many retailers don’t have the technology in place to support.
Understanding your customers is also a vital piece of the puzzle. What do they want? What do they expect? How do they want to receive communication from you? Answering these questions is a great place to start. And, once you understand your customers, you can use technology to improve their journey and enhance their experience – whether that’s giving them personalised product recommendations when they arrive in-store or helping them move their online shopping basket the to physical store they are in.
To summarise, Future Stores left us with this message – Digital disruption is going to continue to evolve. As a retailer, embrace the change and become a disruptor. Lead and always pay attention to what the customer is saying or not!