Experiential Retail

Bringing the Online Offline

Made.com have officially shaken up the furniture world. The successful online retailer has embarked on a path of ‘bringing the online, offline’.

Despite its huge successes on the web, Made.com is investing in bricks and mortar showrooms; an area of retail that has seen major struggles in recent times. So why are they doing this?

“Showrooms are a really important part of our strategy but we still want to stay true to our brand…we just want a few throughout the countries we are in for customers to be able to come and see the bigger purchase items.” Rebecca Ruddle, Head of Showrooms .

Essential Retail reports that the business is looking to create ‘Conversational Commerce’. This includes the removal of tills from showrooms and the ability for ‘customers who were browsing from home to click on an icon on the website to chat with an in-store assistant on the latter’s iPhone or iPad device’. This allows for much more H2H communication and really empowers the sales associate to move away from being a transaction processor, to an experiences provider.

“much better to speak to a human being” because they are better at handling the trickier questions that usually determine whether a customer makes a purchase or not’- Ruddlen

Sales associates can then spend more time in the showroom building that relationship with the customer, getting hands-on with some of the bulkier items and when the time comes to purchasing, they can use store owned laptops and tablets at ordering points to make the purchase online, just as they would have done from home.

Essentially they are trying to move the sale associates role away from being order takers and turning them into experience makers. Sales associates are now free to have more ‘conversational commerce’ with the customers, knowing that the customer will likely be ordering from online…offline.

So far the experiment has paid off, with customer experience at a high and early signs to show the ‘facetime’ chat feature is more appealing to online audiences, Made.com are continuing this expansion of ‘online offline’ showrooms.

With the till removed from store, this really does throw up some fascinating questions around the sales associate, their role and what the modern day consumer is expecting. The vast resources now available to potential consumers was highlighted in a recent survey that suggested 83% of shoppers feel they know more about the product than the sales associate in store. This is obviously problematic for retailers and any sales outlet, but what this cannot highlight is the level of service or experience an associate can offer to a customer.

Despite the shocking figure above, 79% of shoppers still feel that ‘ being able to engage with knowledgeable store associates is “important” or “very important”. In a time where we may see the trend of ‘till-less’ stores become ever more popular, what traits are you going to be trying to develop in your sales associates?

Experiential shopping has proven that the more comfortable and appealing the environment is in-store, the more brand loyalty, basket size and customer satisfaction increases. Made.com is making some interesting waves bringing ‘online offline’ and your opportunity to build the sales associates of the future could start today.

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