It’s not surprising that the retail industry has changed dramatically since 2019. We’re nearing the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s completely changed how we all do business in the modern world. The economy has taken a drastic hit, resulting in store closures and the loss of valued sales associates. We’re all having to make changes to adapt to this new normal.
The issue is that now there are fewer retail associates you can call upon to sell your products, which will inevitably challenge your previous training and loyalty strategies. We’ll cover some ways that can help your brand make the most of the situation and come out stronger in the end.
Retail Associates as Brand Advocates
The key to adapting to the new retail era is elevating “retail workers” to “brand advocates.”
It’s vital to engage retail associates so they can advocate for your brand, values, and products. People have spent so much time shopping online with their electronics over the last year that they’re more than happy to spend time inside stores again. When they get into a store, they’re seeking a “professional” opinion on products. They want to know what the advertisements won’t tell them.
If a customer asks a sales associate what the difference is between Product A and Product B and the sales associate says, “I dunno,” then that customer is likely not going to make the purchase. However, if the sales associate responds, “Well, Product A is very popular with people who work in _____ industry. But I personally love product B because it does X, Y, and Z", then this engages the customer positively because the sales associate is clearly familiar with the product and can speak to the benefits your brand offers.
Brand advocacy also means that a sales associate is able to educate customers about the brand itself. They may want to know about your track record, what ideals your brand stands for, and how other customers feel about it. For example, many consumers are swayed by companies who take ethical and philanthropic approaches. In this case, those selling your products should know if you donate a percentage of the proceeds of a product to frontline workers, or if you craft a product with recycled materials.
Stay connected with retail sales associates while they transition back to the workplace. Update them with information on your latest products and innovations, what’s happening inside the brand, newly established protocols, and more. Use mobile learning and communication platforms to get those who sell your products up to speed as customers start coming back. When they feel connected with your brand, they’ll feel more confident when talking to customers, and will be more likely to make a sale.
Brand Training for Stores as a Retail Hub
Before the pandemic, consumer electronics retail largely considered retail stores to simply be a sales channel in line with online or over-the-phone sales. However, stores like Target reported growth in Q3 of 2020, demonstrating that customers are increasingly willing to travel to stores for instant gratification instead of waiting for delivery. Customers are already excited to be back in physical locations, and your brand can capitalize on that.
The retail sales associate now has a much more influential and centralized role in bridging your brand with consumers - not only serving walk-ins as they have in the past, but also those coming in from online or phone commerce sources. With such extended reach and influence over potential customers, it's more important than ever that your training strategies educate retail sales associates properly on your products, and get your brand first in mind when they make recommendations to customers.
Driving Brand Loyalty Through Incentives
Training brand advocates requires more work than simply making sure they can make a sale. If you’re investing time into brand advocacy training, then you’ll want those who become your advocates to remain so for as long as possible.
If you offer some type of incentive program for loyalty, then it needs to recognize those who are loyal and give them reason to remain loyal to your brand.
Other ways to drive brand loyalty:
- Encourage sales by offering friendly competitions.
- Offer a brand advocate loyalty program.
- Recognize performance through exclusive discounts or rebates on your products.
Anything you can do to make those engaged with your products feel appreciated, valued, and invested will increase their loyalty to your brand.
Are You Ready for the New Retail?
Through ongoing engagement, training, and loyalty programs with attached incentives and rewards, you can build successful brand advocates from retail sales associates. Give them all the support they need to drive sales, help your customers, and maintain your brand’s reputation as the world reopens.
The new retail environment is one we’ve never lived through before, so things will change and evolve as time goes on. The important takeaway is that your brand advocacy training strategy must evolve with it.
See how a mobile retail engagement, training and loyalty solution like SellPro can help you bring your brand advocacy strategy to the next level.
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