Retail store staff still key to in-store sales

New research shatters the myth that most shoppers do not like to be disturbed by retail store staff.

And the study also highlights the highly positive influence sales associates have on influencing shopper purchases. The cross-industry survey, undertaken in the US, was released by Mindtree, a digital transformation and technology services company.

Many shoppers rely on interaction with sales associates to make purchasing decisions, especially in more complex product categories like consumer electronics, home improvement and others. When helped, it leads to significant increase in the amount of the shopper’s transaction, as well as in repeat purchases. Too often, shoppers can’t find sales associates when they have a question. This is a negative experience which leads to shoppers moving to either a different store or to an online channel, the study concluded.

Retail store staff are aware that their influence leads to more sales conversions. However, their efforts are spread thin – they assist both serious shoppers and casual browsers, reducing their efficiency and conversion ratio.

“Conventional thinking in the retail industry is that most shoppers want to be left alone, and that sales associates too often annoy shoppers by trying to offer assistance. The Mindtree survey paints a surprisingly different picture,” said Sunil Oberoi, senior VP and head, retail, CPG and manufacturing with Mindtree.

“Shoppers respond positively when they receive helpful guidance from an associate. A timely assistance in store can lead to an 80 per cent increase in transaction value.”

Gaurav Johri, senior VP and head, platforms & solutions group with Mindtree, said a key part of successful omnichannel retailing is all about delivering timely and helpful recommendations to shoppers that help them feel more confident in making a purchase.

“There is a huge untapped opportunity for retailers to increase conversions and enhance customer loyalty in the store. Mindtree’s platforms, Flooresense and ShotClasses, are built to equip sales associates with real time capabilities to enhance in-store shopper experience and optimize sales time.”

The purpose of the survey, which is titled, ‘Impact of Sales associates on the Shopper’s Purchase Journey,’ and conducted by independent market research firm Grail Research, was to understand the role that sales associates play in the consumer shopping journey. The consumer sample included 600 qualified shoppers that made purchases of $100 or higher in the last three months. The sales associate sample included 100 employees from companies spanning five retail segments: home improvement, electronics and consumer goods, department stores, fashion retail, and specialty retail.

Key findings from the survey include:  

  • Shoppers who interact with a sales associate are 43 per cent more likely to purchase a product, and their transactions have 81 per cent more value, compared to those who don’t interact with an associate. In addition, they are 12 per cent more likely to revisit the store.
  • Conversely, shoppers are less likely to make a purchase if they are not reached out to proactively by a sales associate. Forty per cent of shoppers are unable to locate a store associate when they need help in a typical shopping trip.
  • Ninety one per cent of sales associates strongly agree that positive interactions with shoppers result in higher conversions, yet 94 per cent feel this requires more advanced technology tools and training that they currently don’t have access to.

The survey identified a gap that exists in terms of assistance provided in the store. Associates would like to have access to technologies that help identify shoppers in need of assistance, improving their productivity. However, few brands have capitalised on this need.

Read the detailed report here.


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