Empowering Retail Associates To Deliver Experiences, Not Just Sales [Future of Retail]

Empowering Retail Associates To Deliver Experiences, Not Just Sales [Future of Retail]

Retail platforms create a holistic version of a shopper's history to aid sales associates in delivering customized service.

  • 28 november 2013

Improving face-to-face shopping experiences is as much a part of the future of retail as the latest mobile application or all-knowing web portal. With in-store retail experiences not going away any time soon, it begs the question: how do retailers take the database of knowledge that they have about their customers and put that information right in the hands of sales associates, the very individuals on the front lines of customer service?

In our fourth Future of Retail report, PSFK Labs has identified the trend of Connected Relationship Management, where sales assistants and, more broadly, retailers, are using shared access to customer information to bridge the gap between sales staff and shoppers and help build long-term relationships. The syncing of profiles and preferences across channels has created a more holistic picture of a shopper’s entire history. When accessed alongside in-store technologies like tablets or kiosks, these connected experiences allow shoppers and sales associates to have more informed interactions at every stage of a sale. This personalized level of service and engagement not only delivers value in the moment, but also presents opportunities to add to this knowledge base, building better relationships over time. Read below to see the how this trend is manifesting within the marketplace.

eBay retail associates

The Retail Associate Platform from online retailer eBay is a tablet solution that will help sales associates create and personalize profiles of customers based on data points such as their purchase history and contact information. The platform includes a real-time recommendation engine, utilizing a shopper’s data from across eBay’s websites. The application and its supporting system are designed to replace in-store retail associates’ ‘little black books,’ extending memory of customer preferences, purchase history, and upcoming events that drive unique purchases. eBay hopes to better engage shoppers while they are in their stores by empowering associates with more information.


Delta Airlines has equipped flight attendants with Nokia Lumia smartphones to help streamline inflight operations, while creating a platform to deliver more customer-specific experiences. By connecting through the in-flight wireless network, attendants can better alert customers of flight changes and delays, as well as what Delta is doing to help ensure timely arrival. Attendants are be able to use the smartphones to help handle food sales, drink purchases, and on-board seat upgrades, dramatically reducing the amount of paperwork previously used. Similarly, service offerings and promotions can be shared with attendants more easily. Delta hopes eventually to offer more personalized service by linking mileage memberships and information from previous flights, creating bespoke promotions and rewards, as well as freeing up attendants’ in-flight time so they may better serve customers.


Online and catalog-based retailer Boston Proper has opened its first brick-and-mortar store as a bridge between online interactions and the real world. Looking to craft a story from previous, 2D-interactions, the store has ‘stylists’ who are as knowledgeable about products that exist online as they are about products available in-store. Screen-enabled tables are also available for shoppers and stylists to use to browse the full range of the online catalog. Customers can create wish lists before their visit to review product selections, fashion videos, and upcoming trends in-store. Stylists are also able to research customers’ purchase histories to better suggest products, the intent being to connect better with customers and build relationships. Boston Proper reports that over 10% of the sales are derived from the tech tables.

The Connected Relationship Management trend is part of a bigger theme called Networked Purchase Path. At key points along the shopping journey, a forward thinking retailer or brand can effectively employ data, connected technologies and human service to meet the shopper where they are and anticipate where they will go next, created seamless experiences and better interactions across channels.

In the fourth edition of the Future of Retail Report, PSFK Labs brings together two interconnected themes and eleven key trends that provide a foundation for the modern shopping experience. The findings are brought to life with best-in-class examples, actionable strategies and leading questions to inspire leading retailers and brands. Join us at our San Francisco conference on Nov. 21st to hear talks from retail innovators that will bring the report’s key themes to life.



Images: Motorola Solutions


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