How to focus store teams on what matters most

how to focus store teams on what matters most

Kayleigh Fazan of The International Retail Academy and André Pedersen, COO of Bjorklund spoke at Retail Week LIVE, exploring the best ways to focus retail store teams on what matters most.

With 73% of shoppers spending more in response to good customer service, it has never been more important to hone in on offering a first-class experience.

This article takes a look at how you can focus store teams on retail priorities while converting visitors into customers.

How to focus store teams on what matters most

1. Build a team of store ambassadors

Having your staff work as store ambassadors is a key way to drive brand awareness and grow your reputation.

Kayleigh explained: “A store ambassador is someone who advocates for your brand outside of the store. They don’t just live and breathe your product and brand inside the store, but they do the same outside the store. This makes such a difference and brand advocacy from the inside out is so powerful, as they tell their friends, family and social following.”

André added: “A true ambassador brings value to everything you do and brings the brand into markets that you might not reach yourself, which is so valuable.”

impact of positive store teams in retail

2. Communicate the importance of creating an instore experience

The retailers that customers are most loyal to are those that create a memorable instore experience that they look forward to having again. By making sure retail teams understand and embrace this, you can help to boost conversions and grow loyalty.

André said: “The store team are the only ones that physically meet the customers and it is so important to recognise that the customer journey is only halfway complete when a shopper leaves a store. Having a memorable experience will mean you can get that same customer back instore, with the staff and the memory they leave making the ongoing and lasting difference.”

Kayleigh added: “When you have a customer instore, they’re waiting to be inspired and educated. Some go in not knowing exactly what to buy and that is an opportunity. Some customers know what they want and it’s your job as an associate to be genuinely curious and ask the right questions. Store associates are almost like the composer; if they have the right body language and ignite the person in front of them to take action, they can convert a shopper. This is the case whether you’re getting the consumer to move with you in the retail store while you have their attention, whether they’re going to the fitting room, trying on a ring, or looking in a virtual mirror.”

3. Remember the value of a smile

A smile can make or break a retail experience for shoppers. Kayleigh and André spoke about the importance of a smile from retail teams.

Kayleigh commented: “If someone goes into a shop, this is an investment of time. If the store team are behind the till, processing a delivery, or on the phone to their area manager – you start to feel that you’ve been in the shop a few moments, you’ve not been welcomed and you feel undervalued or that you’re not welcome. That is really bad. If you feel unwelcome in your experience when you’re ready to hand over your money, are you going to invest more of your time with the people in that store, or are you going to walk out and go elsewhere?

“On the other hand, if you flip this experience, you can make the customer the centre of a story. Whether it’s a new work bag, maternity bra, or pair of shoes for a marathon. You don’t know the customer’s story, but if you smile, make them feel welcome and get that person feeling valued and comfortable, you make them feel seen. The value of a smile is basic and does so much.”

smile in retail experience

4. Introduce a bottom-up approach to reach goals

Rather than enforcing a top-down approach to management, a bottom-up approach in retail can motivate teams, while helping to identify pain points and set ambitious, yet realistic targets.

Kayleigh gave an example of how a bottom-up approach can work in retail: “I was partnered with Rituals last year to help them with their customer experience. We could have launched a new customer experience very quickly, but that’s risky as it’s more dictating… so we went for a bottom-up approach. We went to the markets with surveys sent to the entire workforce to understand their thoughts, so everybody had their opportunity to add value and give honest, transparent feedback. This means we could understand the friction and pain points and we empowered them to tell leadership the truth. There were so many rich insights that came back and I presented this data to the CEO. We did this collaboratively with the store teams and this meant the project task force were the people that were always closest to the customer and the majority of people were from the front line. It has to be this way, because these are the people that experience everything and bring it to life.”

André said: “We involve the stores in making their own budgets, then we set KPIs to reach this budget and it’s our job to give them the tools to reach these goals. This way round, they come up with the ideas themselves and it inspires them. If you give them a budget and tell them how to reach it, they don’t own it and it’s harder.”

5. Mobilise instore teams to adapt

By giving store teams all of the information that they need to make informed decisions, retail brands can benefit from associates adapting as required. 

André said: “By allowing instore teams to adapt, you can get instant feedback and can then address this on a store or individual customer level.”

Kayleigh added: “It’s about streamlining communications, being clear about what’s happening in the business and making sure store teams are well-informed, but not overloaded with unnecessary information that they don’t need or use. Be more human in your approach; if you need something quickly, don’t email it… just pick up the phone. If people are on board with you as a brand and person, magic is going to happen.”

Time to focus store teams on what matters most

By working closely with those on the retail front line, you can build an unforgettable instore experience for all the right reasons. Retail leaders that plan collaboratively and communicate effectively are able to inspire their teams, as well as the shoppers that enter their stores.