Empower your staff with data

Imagine knowing beforehand which customers will be walking into the store? Would you be able to offer better service?

In previous chapters it has become quite clear that enablement, empowerment and engagement of the store staff are incredibly important. You can imagine that data can play a crucial role in all this, too. Some obvious solutions to integrate data could be to have automatic access to inventories, information about products, sales insight (your own and that of competitors), weather forecasts, trends discussed on social media, etc.

But there is more data that can be very helpful on the shop floor, for example the behaviour of customers, which is increasingly being recorded and mapped out. But also purchases at the cashier’s desk, walking patterns in the store, poll responses via tablets, search behaviour on the instore kiosk, etc. can be interesting to know. More and more retailers are discovering the added value of data and when to use this data to influence the shopping journey of the consumer.

Consumers are being surprised in the store with a personal offer – on their phone – at exactly the moment they are standing in front of the shop display the offer is referring to. Very powerful marketing.

Now imagine what could happen if you were to include the most powerful instrument you have in the store into this strategy? What if the store staff were to have access to the data? And in a way that they could do their job better? Empowerment! Through data!

Cosmetics retail giant Sephora doesn’t have to wonder about this at all. For years they’ve been benefitting from empowerment through data. Customers who are in the vicinity of the store, for example, receive an invitation to drop by for a mini makeover; all entirely tailored to each individual consumer (skin type, hair colour, complexion, favourite brand, loyalty points, etc.). And as soon as the customer walks in, the employee who’ll be taking care of the makeover is notified. Handy for efficiency: the products can be set up beforehand and, more importantly, are ready for an extra sale and useful during the sales talk. Data empowers the entire strategy of Sephora, which includes the staff. Inside the Sephora Innovation Lab, employees get to actively share their thoughts on the way technology and data are used on the shop floor. This creates practical and effective solutions. Empowerment and Engagement deliver proven results.

Consumer data on the shop floor is still very much used in the functional sense. Customers are recognised so as to reward them with loyalty points, purchases are recorded in order to process returns, a postcode might be asked on occasion, or an e-mail address is entered into the system. What the store staff mostly do here is register the data, but not actually apply it.


Can we increase the chances of them utilising the data more effectively if they themselves can experience its potential? Kega asked fashion retail staff in the Netherlands how they would like to apply consumer data to be able to perform their job more effectively. What the staff would like to have access to as soon as the conversation with the customers starts, is information such as the consumer’s size, purchase history, brand preference and, if available, the online wish list. The consumer’s behaviour on social media, as far as the staff is concerned, is less relevant.

During the sales conversation, the data needs of the employee shift toward factual, general information that is aimed at helping the customer even more. The information they are looking for includes, for instance, stock availability in the shop and in the other branches, a simple method of comparing prices, but also access to detailed information after scanning a specific product. When the staff member scans an item in the store, he or she would like to see additional product information, like you can already view online, that is tailored to the profile and purchase history of the customer.

The staff in the store speak with customers and get to know the customer better during that sales talk. But what they can’t do is record this information anywhere (because this usually isn’t a focal point). Without highly motivated staff, data can’t be properly recorded. Just under 80% of store staff indicate they have no objection to recording standard consumer data (NAW@) – preferably on a tablet or at the register and provided they have time, of course. A little over half are also willing to register additional information (brand preference, which items they customer tried on, etc.) that could help during a future visit to the store. Looking at it from another perspective, around half of the store personnel still need to be motivated to go the extra mile when collecting data.

Empowering the staff in the store with data includes making them aware of the power of data, as well as how important the quality of that data is. The key to that quality lies in the hands of the store staff and it is up to them to use it during every sales moment. And it’s therefore up to us to motivate the staff to empower themselves.

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