Nov. 15, 2016
Autumn is upon us! It's time to pull out a sweater, light the fireplace, and relax with a good book. Along with the falling leaves and cooler temperatures comes the desire for comfort. So, in this season of comfort, how can we ensure the feeling translates successfully to the sales floor?
The idea of comfort in sales has different definitions to different people, but the gap between generations tends to be the most jarring. Some generations, myself included, tend to find comfort in the traditional sales approach: one-on-one interaction with in-store personnel, discussing product knowledge, pricing and competitor information. Classic and simple, no bells or whistles, the traditional sales approach has been the go-to sales technique for generations. However, in the new age of technology, online engagement drives a new generation of shoppers. Millennials, born between the mid-1980's and early 2000's, are approaching the sales floors, as they mature into the primary household consumer. Therefore, we might want to begin to redefine the comfort zone as it applies to this new generation of customers.
Looking back to the traditional sales approach we revisit its glory in the days of the baby boomers. This generation's comfort zone values conventional social interactions and the in-store experience. Millennials were raised during the revolution of modern technology and tend to find value in independent consumerism. This generation finds this formerly "go-to sales approach" to be off putting, preferring to gain product information through online data before even entering the store. With 70 percent of millennials reporting to experience social anxiety, it's not a question of why these new shoppers dislike the traditional sales approach but what we can do to ensure their comfort. So, what does this mean for store merchandising redefining comfort on the sales floor?
Thanks to advanced technology, interactive kiosks are becoming more and more prevalent for consumers who are looking to avoid 'being sold' on a product. Millennials value their independence and ability to make decisions without feeling like they've been swayed one way or another. They don't enter the store looking to be sold. They come with a product or purchase in mind, seeking reassurance in the choice they've already made themselves. In this case, interactive kiosks are ideal. Acting as a beacon, kiosks invite consumers to the product with unique designs, advanced technology and selling power. Shoppers are spending time in the stores, comfortable in the setting and finding the information that they seek about the product they are purchasing. It's a win for the consumer, a win for the retailer and a win for the brand marketers.
The sales approach itself has changed throughout the years, but few items stay true. A personalized shopping experience remains a constant need from generation through generation. How can this personalized experience be utilized in a sales approach that limits direct customer-retailer interaction? The answer is found in interactive kiosks. Kiosks are pre-programmed to know the product in such a way that the consumer is left without reservation; at the same time, allowing for both effectiveness and efficiency that consumers demand. While some millennials retreat from face-to-face encounters with salespeople, they are still looking to be recognized as a customer with specific needs.
Technological advancements with interactive kiosks enable retailers and brand marketers to fulfill the millennials' desire for instant gratification, and provide the efficiency so important in a consumer's personalized experience within their comfort zone.
Ron Bowers is senior VP of business development, Frank Mayer and Associates, Inc.