developing technology has a huge impact on sale assistant’s role evolution.
the retail sector, indeed, has experienced considerable change in recent years, and the pace and impact of change continues influencing the nature of the industry and its employees.
just think how the role of personal assistant has changed in the last years and how it has transformed the way they work.
try not to see technology as a tool that negatively impacts the SA; technology will never replace the human people in the store, but, instead think how much innovation has progressed to make their life much easier.
technology provides, without doubts, new opportunities for automating and mundane routines that happens in the retail world while release time for more demanding work. if traditionally sales assistant’s jobs have been regarded as requiring little real ability or few skills, they now have the opportunity to be more proactive, fast and manage their own work instead of receiving defined assignments. (Porter. M, Heppelmann. J, 2017)
that means greater independence and bigger responsibility in the attempt to increase efficiency and effectiveness by combining specific capabilities and competences that can not, in any case, be provided by technology.
realizing that the real value for sales assistants is clearly the relationship and interaction with customers, the birth of digital technology, has allowed them to earn time for improving the customer experience and satisfaction.
indeed, despite the online shopping channel continues to grow, the “store loyalty” is still, in many cases, the preferred channel where to purchase items. for instance, according to PWC total retail 2017, 51% of Italians is used to buy in the physical store and it is here where the role of SA acquires importance.
successful and knowledgeable sale assistance, is rated by customers as one of the biggest reasons that lead to an overall customer satisfaction with 58% claiming the good relationship is what creates an excellent shopping experience (PWC total retail 2017).
the message highlighted from the findings is that successful SA are still the key to a satisfying shopping experience and this increases the odd of sales. a good customer experience is one where the consumer is excited to engage with the SA, and this is something technology is not able to offer yet. thus, retailers still have to invest in the sale assistant; people must stay at the heart of the strategy by delivering greater customer service with and not without the technological offerings.
moreover, from the other point of view, the rapid advancement of technology has certainly edited the way the customer thinks and what they now expect from a retail experience. technology helps customers being able to self-navigate around stores and knowledgeable about products. it has allowed, for most of the people that enter in a point of sales, to operate with a sufficient degree of self-sufficiency, at least during the initial phase of a new purchase, by letting the personal assistant be engaged in other, more complex tasks.
just to name a few, examples in this sense are: customers that via mobile applications are not only guided inside the point of sale but also towards the product he/she is looking for (indoor positioning solution); digital devices (tablet, smartphone, smart-glasses) that focus the item the customer is interested in and the installed application that recognizes in real time the object, providing information in mixed reality and, again floor sensors that monitor and track foot traffic in the store. thus, technology today is very efficient in helping quickly find the information people need as well as keep track of their needs.
as you see, technology, if used in this clever way, helps to have a better understanding of customers’ demand and consequently allows the store to offer a unique and personalized shopping experience to visitors. however, customers will never do all the work themselves, there is still a need on the SAs for interaction. technology has a long way to go to achieve what people can do because people have values and expertise that machines can not reach.
in our opinion accepting the influence of the technology is paramount in the retail industry; nowadays innovation is at the same time reality and necessity. if we look at the future, we do believe that only the right combination of technology and skilled SA can improve the shopping experience of consumer and the awareness of brands and retailers, by bringing both sides to achieve greater results.
Porter. M, Heppelmann J: “perchè a ogni organizzazione occorre una strategia per la realtà aumentata; (Nov 2017)
PWC, Total retail 2017