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Can High Tech and High Touch Coexist In Store?

Shopping mall

Photo courtesy of Forbes.com

Can high tech and high touch coexist to create a better in-store experience? The simple answer is “Yes”. But, we all know because something is simple doesn’t mean it’s easy to implement.

Here’s the dilemma — retailers and brands have myriad of choices for slick high-tech tools to engage their customer. Sephora recently launched a Tinder-esque app that allows customers to approve or veto make up looks/products. Starbucks has a fun emoji app that lets you add a cup of your fave grande latte to your selfie. And let’s not forget beacon technology that adds a certain ‘ick’ element to your in-store shopping experience: “Big brother knows you’re in our store and We. Are. Watching. You.”

But, these cool ‘value add’ technology solutions seem vastly disconnected from the actual in-store experience. Why? The answer is somewhat obvious: No one told the store employees about the cool ‘value add’ technology, or taught them how to leverage it to improve the shopper’s in-store experience. As a matter of fact, the in-store teams may view most tech solutions as completely separate from their world.

Three Quick Fixes:

  1. Technology is our friend: Technology can be very off-putting  — nothing signals “Leave me alone” like burying your face in your smart phone. So, if you walked into my store looking down at your smart phone, I may assume you don’t want to be interrupted when, in fact, you do because you’re trying to find the sale item you were just alerted to. You see the dilemma. Educate the in-store teams on how to best approach this client. Move the mind set from “They’re ignoring me”  to “They need my help”.
  2. Use technology to engage the shopper: Once again, technology can be very off-putting. If I walk into a store and see the in-store Associate on her iPad, I may assume she’s on Snapchat. But, what if she opens her body language, turns the iPad towards me, and says, “The new season’s silhouette would look fabulous on you.”  I’m in. You get the picture.
  3. It’s about the people: Always has been, always will. Both the shopper and the employee. Try as we might, we cannot script a human interaction and that includes an in-store Associate and customer interaction. Your in-store teams must be educated as consummate communicators — prepared and ready to shift to the client’s preferred style of communication to best serve them.

Want to continue the conversation? Perfect! I love to talk shop.

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