Saturday, December 11, 2010

Are Sales Associates Passe?

A survey by Accenture finds that most smartphone users would rather consult their device to get basic shopping information than ask for help from a store employee:
73% of shoppers with smartphones favor using their smartphone to handle simple tasks in stores compared with 15% who favor interaction with an employee, the survey says. Similarly, 71% favor using their smartphone to identify a store with a desired item in stock, while 17% would prefer to get that information by speaking to an employee.
My first reaction was that the issue isn't asking a store employee a question -- it's finding a store employee to ask.

Which gets to the core of the issue: employees are expensive, so stores have cut back. They can cut back more if they improve their digital service offerings. Which means it will get even tougher to find a store employee when we need one, I guess.

But opportunities are there, as always. One obviously is offering a suite of services via mobile devices that make it quick and easy to find help that way; another is to differentiate oneself by offering good in-store service from human beings; a third might be offering the best possible combination of both forms of customer service.

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