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Store Wars: The Rise Of Floorwalkers

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A long time ago in a galaxy that seems very far away retailers used to provide something that has gotten lost over the century-long history of modern retailing.

Call it service, call it customer care, call it knowledgeable sales help, even call it guest services if you must, but whatever you call it, it all falls under one heading: people on the selling floor to help customers buy things.

From the days of the first general stores and the local merchant who stocked pretty much whatever you needed, the most basic part of retailing has always been about someone behind the counter who could help.

In the rush to dumb down modern retailing, that concept got lost in the spreadsheets, replaced by ever decreasing numbers of salespeople, self-checkout lines and minimum-wage workers whose main function was to stock shelves, not help customers.

With the online onslaught and the need to compete, that process is being reversed—not that it’s by any means a universal turnaround for retailing in general. Far too many physical stores are void of any human life forms there to assist. But some retailers are starting to get it.

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• Say what you want about the Story concept at Macy’s—and I still have my doubts they are ever going to make this work—but one of the pleasant surprises one finds when shopping these ever-changing pop-up shops is that there are living, breathing salespeople there to help you. They are for the most part cheerful, enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the products for sale in the area. It’s a stark contrast with the rest of the store.

• Showfields, the experiential retailer in downtown Manhattan that features small shops leased to mostly online brands, has a person in each of these areas ready to tell you all about what’s for sale. They’ve even tested a reality shopping experience where salespeople play-act roles revolving around the products being sold. It could go horribly wrong if the salespeople-cum-actors lay it on too thick but it works nicely in the best traditions of a Disney-Broadway mash-up.

• Whenever anybody pines for the good old days of department stores, they usually end up referencing Nordstrom as the only present-day player in the space that still adheres to the concept of professional salesperson. Even with some of its recent struggles, Nordstrom remains probably the most successful department store in the country and it’s largely due to the quality of their people. They are the poster child for customer service in today’s legacy retailing world.

There are many other examples but let’s not forget the reverse: the poster child for getting customer service wrong was the late, little-lamented Circuit City. During one of its iterations, the consumer electronics big-box chain systematically got rid of all of its best, most knowledgeable salespeople in the pursuit of lower costs. The move was a disaster as evidenced by the fact that the company went out of business a few short years later.

Contrast that with Best Buy, which has gone the opposite route, emphasizing customer service through its Geek Squad and other initiatives that thrive on salespeople helping customers through the often-frightening world of buying a big expensive electronics purchase. This strategy has made Best Buy the envy of most comparable physical retailers that are trying to come up with anti-Amazon strategies.

This Rise of the Floorwalker movement is catching on across many parts of retailing, though some stores remain oblivious. Those that get it right are likely to have long runs. Those that don’t probably won’t have any sequels in the Store Wars.

The business of retailing is my specialty…and boy is it special. Plenty of good, bad and ugly to go around and my job, as it has been for most of my career as a business journalist, is to try to sort it all out. I do so as a regular contributor to Forbes.com, as well as The Robin Report, Progressive Business Media and other media, plus my own blog, stupidbusiness.com. My regular commentaries have elicited both praise and scorn and I welcome them both equally. I expect to be doing this for the duration.

Source: Store Wars: The Rise Of Floorwalkers

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Want To Sell More? Keep Your Mouth Shut – George Deeb

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I have written dozens of useful how-to lessons for driving sales, but perhaps none is more important than this one.  This is the day that you learn that driving sales has very little to do with what YOU have to say.  And, it is everything to do with what YOUR CLIENT has to say.  The magic sauce to closing the transaction is knowing how to ask probing questions, sit back and LISTEN.  Keeping your mouth shut is typically a really hard concept for a salesperson to grasp.  But, if they do, jewels of insights and real pain points of your customers will quickly surface to the top the more THEY talk……..

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/georgedeeb/2018/11/02/want-to-sell-more-keep-your-mouth-shut/#4c8322c01e8e

 

 

 

 

 

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How New Entrants Are Shaping The Future Of Retail | Online Marketing Tools

Retailers Brandless, Warby Parker and Boxed show that retail innovation and disruption may come from the middle – or rather, by eliminating it.

Source: How New Entrants Are Shaping The Future Of Retail | Online Marketing Tools

Restaurant POS Lightspeed Announces iOS Integrations – Michael Guta

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Lightspeed has announced it is integrating Intuit QuickBooks Online and Planday so retailers and restaurateurs can efficiently manage their finances and workforce within the iOS ecosystem.

Lightspeed iOS Integration

Intuit is going to bring its payroll solution, while Planday will provide a workforce management platform. Together with Lightspeed’s cloud-based point-of-sale systems, the collaboration will give independent businesses in both industries a fully integrated finance and employee scheduling capability.

All three companies are Apple Mobility Partners, which will ensure a “compatibility issue free” integration. For many independent retailers and restaurant owners, who are in the small business segment, having the technology they choose work out of the box is extremely important. And the relationship between the three companies plays a role in this.

Julian Teixeira, VP of Sales, Lightspeed, explained the significance of the relationship in the press release. He said, “This relationship ushers in a new era of ease and innovation for our customers. With this integration, we are delivering one experience to retail and restaurant customers to help them save time, make more money, and improve data accuracy through automatic syncing of all systems.”

Benefits of the Integration

The applications of all three companies are going to be integrated into the iOS platform to deliver a seamless user experience. According to Lightspeed, this will save businesses time and money while being able to engage with their employees more effectively.

When Lightspeed users get on their iPhone or iPad, they will be able to deliver a better customer experience because they will be able to see a comprehensive picture of their business. Owners will have a centralized location where they can manage and report on their entire inventory.

Anytime there is a sale, the information automatically goes from Lightspeed into the correct ledger in Intuit QuickBooks Online.  And when it comes to scheduling your workforce, Planday lets owners plan shifts based on expected revenue while managing individual or group communications.

While these functions are taking place, the three platforms are communicating with each other. So the information on sales, worker times and attendance will go from Planday and Lightspeed into Intuit QuickBooks Online to run payroll.

What this means for the small business operator is no more wasted time creating reports for each task because they will be consolidated.

Christian Broendum, CEO, Planday, said it best as to how retailers and restauranteurs will benefit from this integration, “Ensuring the right employees are in position and with the right team size during busy or quiet periods is key to success, but this has been a real admin challenge for operators. The combined solution represents a significant step in solving this equation with the minimum of effort.

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Microsoft Reportedly Working on Amazon Go-Like Cashier-Less Technology – Taylor Soper

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Amazon isn’t the only Seattle-area tech giant that wants to change how we pay for items at the grocery store. Microsoft’s business AI team is developing automated technology that tracks what shoppers put in their cart, according to a report from Reuters, which said that the company is in talks with retailers including Walmart about implementing the software.

When contacted by GeekWire, a Microsoft spokesperson said “Microsoft does not comment on rumors or speculation.” The cashier-less system would be a direct competitor to Amazon Go, Amazon’s own attempt to reinvent the physical store with the same mindset that brought one-click shopping to the internet.

Amazon debuted the first Amazon Go location at its headquarters in Seattle in December 2016; it opened to the public in January of this year. The company is opening additional Amazon Go locations in Chicago and San Francisco.

At Amazon Go, shoppers check in by scanning their unique QR code while overhead cameras work with weight sensors in the shelves to precisely track which items they pick up and take with them. When they leave, they just leave. Amazon Go’s systems automatically debit their accounts for the items they take, sending the receipt to the app.

Amazon Go is part of a broader push by Amazon into physical retail, including its acquisition of Whole Foods, its Amazon Books stores, and AmazonFresh Pickup locations.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has also been thinking about building technology that improves how customers shop at a physical store. In 2009 it opened its Retail Experience Center at the company’s Redmond, Wash. headquarters.

“The Retail Experience Center features in-store displays of Microsoft consumer products and showcases powerful ways to cut costs, create efficiencies, streamline operations, and promote and sell goods — within the aisles, in the employee break room, at receiving and shipping, at checkout, across the Web, and even at home or on the go,” a press release noted.

Reuters reported that Microsoft is working with six partners that are building cashier-less related technology using the company’s Azure cloud service. The company has also hired a computer vision specialist who worked on Amazon Go.

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UK Retail Sales Come In From The Cold With a 1.6% Rise In April

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Retailers enjoyed the biggest jump in sales in 18 months during April as shoppers, forced to stay home by the bitter weather in March, returned to the high street.

Fashion clothing, food and petrol sales bounced back to push sales volumes up 1.6% in April on the previous month as the “beast from the east” receded and the sun came out.

However the Office for National Statistics, which compiled the figures, warned that sales growth remained subdued “with the volume of goods sold over the last six months broadly unchanged”.

A spokesman said: “Over the longer-term retail sales growth has slowed considerably, with increases in food, household goods and internet retailers being largely offset by declines across all other types of retailing.”

A number of retails are struggling, with Marks & Spencer saying earlier this week it would be closing 100 stores by 2022.

Department stores were among the biggest losers in April, though this reflected their resilience in March when their internet operations profited from the cold snap.

Sales fell 1.2% in March from February, with petrol sales down 7.4% after large parts of the UK were brought to a standstill by heavy snow and transport delays.

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On Thursday, Kingfisher, the owner of the B&Q, reported that its flagship DIY chain had seen a 9% drop in sales in the three months to 30 April. It blamed 6% of the fall on the effects of the snow, which hit sales of outdoor products and forced it to close stores.

Kingfisher chief executive Véronique Laury described UK market conditions as uncertain with trade at B&Q affected by “soft demand” and a lower number of shoppers out and about. She said the start to the year had been “challenging” as a result of “exceptionally harsh weather”.

Andrew Westbrook, head of retail at accountancy firm RSM, said: “Retail sales were slightly better than expected in April giving operators a chance to partially recover from the poor weather in March.

“The amount spent by shoppers increased by 3.5% when compared with the same month last year. However, while these numbers are encouraging, there is still a Darwinian struggle taking place on the UK high street.

Howard Archer, chief economic advisor to the EY Item Club, said there were good reasons to remain downbeat about the prospects for retailers. He said: “With inflation moderating and regular earnings growth firming gradually the squeeze on consumers has eased. Nevertheless, consumers are still under significant pressure and it looks unrealistic to expect a marked upturn in consumer spending any time soon.”

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