How to bridge the gap between online and in store experience for retail managers

April Sabral

/ Leadership

2018 is around the corner and its time to think about what the next year will bring. Retail is going through a shift and in 2018 we will see it even more than 2017. But even with a shift to more online sales and instant access to home deliveries it is still a fact that people still like the interaction of shopping and engaging in a store environment this will always be huge part of every retail business.

Even with all the changes that we have seen this year in retail and I am sure there are more to come. Leadership traits in successful retail managers remain consistent. First and foremost being in a service and sales industry you have to LOVE people. Yes,! You do. I absolutely love working with people and find it rewarding to say the least when I meet a customer for the first time and find out about who they are brighten their day and make them smile. Now more than ever there is more room for choice through online shopping with less interaction, making every customer you interact with the most important person in the room becomes even more of a priority. If you want to be remembered then you better be memorable.

I am a shopper that really doesn’t want much interaction when I shop unless I ask for it and I am very frugal as I work in retail so I am looking for the deal just like everyone else. However I really appreciate being acknowledged spoken to as if it matters and guided as needed when I ask.

If online retail can give the customer exactly what they want when they want it, then doing the same in store will be very important. Now that most stores have apps or ease of online shopping customers can stand in the store and literally buy right on their phone if you are not available. I know I have done this myself when I am not getting what I need. No longer are managers competing with just the store next door or the sales person thats better they have a silent competitor in the customers hand that you are not even aware of.

Retail managers need to embrace this and see online as part of the experience and use it to help the customer navigate and look for product instead of seeing it as a threat.

Shopping online with the outfit or item on a real body can be very appealing, one thing I love about online shopping is the simplicity of the merchandising. It shows outfits in a full picture with everything to match.

Leadership Characteristics have not changed even though the environment has, however leading the bridge between online and store experience is going to be a new experience in 2018 for most retail store managers.

Here are a few tips to build this bridge and use your resources so that your team can continue the in store experience seamlessly from the online store as customers enter into your store.

  • Review the website: know what is on the landing page daily what will your customers see as they browse your organizations site. Whats the first thing they see? Are you aware of daily deals? Whats the product laid out like? It can be very different from in store merchandising.
  • Read Product reviews: Use this as a product training book. The company website has more information that you can find easily. It is what the customer uses to complete their research, be more knowledgable by reading it and ensuring your team to does the same.
  • Quiz your team: Daily quiz your team on whats showcased on the site and the competitors sites. Your team should know more than the customer.
  • Use it in store: When possible if a customer is resistant to shop in store promote the website and use it as a selling tool. Ultimately if the customer walks away and buys online it is helping the overall company and you provided that connection to buy.
  • One brand mentality: Customers see the website and in store as one brand and so should you and your team.
  • Speak positively: Speak very positively about online and web teams to your sales team. As a manager it is your responsibility to bridge the gap and speak positively about the online brand and in store to everyone you interact with inside and outside the company be a brand ambassador.
  • Provide feedback: When you receive feedback from your customers in store about the online experience what they love and what they are looking for share it.

Retail managers are the leaders on the ground and front facing to the customer experience. Make sure that you are positive, leading the change and building your brand. We know that shoppers have more choice and can shop with complete autonomy now with online and the convenience of it.

This is why it’s so important to be the bridge between online and store experience and know your part in building the brand online even if you don’t see the sale today, remember your role is to lead your team focus on the experience and ensure every customer that enters into your store is the most important person in the room. When your customer chooses to spend their money online they may choose you because of the in store experience teach your teams to think like this, it will be a crucial part of the experience in the future.

Written by April Sabral, Founderof and Certified Leadership Coach.

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