E-commerce is changing the retail landscape, and these changes mean a shift in the staff and skills required to operate brick and mortar stores. Amazon is testing no-line, no-cash stores in Seattle, where customers can walk in, grab what they need, and walk out while being automatically charged for what they picked up on their credit card.
The experience of touching, holding, and smelling something before we buy has been replaced by online product reviews, same-day delivery, and chatbots that can answer any question about a product in a quick text-based interaction. We’re turning to e-commerce to buy everything from groceries to cars—purchases that have historically been made in-person with help from sales teams, customer service representatives, and cashiers.
Keeping Up with New Technology
Retail workers will have to get familiar with ever-evolving technologies that are becoming commonplace in modern brick and mortar stores, and do everything from increase checkout speeds to deliver products to customers’ houses. Technological literacy to operate these new systems and tools, like iPads and wireless POS systems, is becoming a must-have.
Another implication of the shift to e-commerce is that brick and mortar shops are now serving as showrooms. Instead of having a sales focus, stores act as a place for consumers to come out and try products out for size, test them, and get advice from product experts. Shoppers can then make a purchase in-store through an iPad or small touch screen and have it delivered right to their home. It means stores need less space to house inventory, but puts an increased demand on retail staff in skilled areas ranging from fashion styling to interior decorating.
Those who decide to move from in-person customer service to an ecommerce role will have to adapt their skills to assist customers around the world on multiple platforms—from email and telephone to text and Twitter. Strong written communication will be mandatory for text-based live chat and SMS services.
Developing as a Team
For retail managers and brick-and-mortar store owners, staying up to speed on the latest innovations and training team members to adapt to these new technologies will be crucial. Savvy customers are coming to expect the fast service and expert recommendations they can find online. Involve your team in the process of adapting by encouraging them to observe and recommend new technologies they’re experiencing in the marketplace and online. If you decide to adopt some of the new software, hardware, or systems, create plans for your employees to get training and become experts. Use these new opportunities to support your team’s growth and learning by creating quarterly goals. Our SMART Goals Worksheet can help manage your team’s performance when you adopt a new system or technology in your store.
The way we shop will continue to shift as processes get automated and innovations make it easier than ever to shop from the comfort of our home. Keeping up with these changes and being open to adapt to them can help your business grow, develop, and thrive.