The struggles of doing a retail job and providing customer service

A common example of multitasking at work is a representative juggling numerous tasks at once like talking on the telephone, taking notes and checking emails at the same time. People talk on the phone while driving, text while keeping conversation with friends, and constantly check emails while watching favorite shows. There has been numerous scientific researches published in recent years investigating human multitasking abilities. Some of the projects intended to determine the benefits it can bring, while others were carried out to study the negative consequences of multitasking.

The struggles of doing a retail job and providing customer service

Heard that phrase before? Over expansion, lack of innovation and supply chain mismanagement are all contributing factors to retail struggles.

So, is retail dead, dying or merely changing? Last year, Walmart, a classic brick and mortar, snatched up Jet. Walmart already had a great technological foundation and the Jet acquisition added to it.

Amazon, an iconic digital brand went in the other direction by acquiring Whole Foods.

The struggles of doing a retail job and providing customer service

Do they know something that the media is missing? Brands like Walmart and Amazon prove that whether physical or digital, success and longevity come from foresight and the willingness to adapt. Many retailers that are suffering all have failed to understand and adopt new technologies that can help deliver better customer experiences, manage supply chain and better understand the shopper journey.

Is the end inevitable or are we just seeing headlines based on the misfortune of a few stubborn, unhealthy brands and having it sold to us as the overall new normal in retail? Perhaps for some it is too late but many retailers just require a little help. Not everyone is hurting — Many retailers are thriving.

While online retailers are having a significant impact on brands like 99 Cent Only Stores, Cole Haan and Gymboree others are doing just fine. The tactics many retailers use today are combination of flawed math, guessing and general observation.

Enter the Solutions — In-store technology is not yet a widely popular solution among many retailers because they are stuck in an old school mindset but that is changing. There are several players in the solution space that leverage technologies such as facial recognition, phone-wifi latency triangulation and presence detection beacons.

Retailers using this kind of tech should be considered early adopters and the technology is still generally nascent. We asked some retailers about these forms of technology and the feedback ranged from somewhat useful to not very useful.

On top of that the data received was lackluster and not very helpful. The most common technology we saw deployed was over the door traffic counters.

Managers we spoke to expressed a lack of usefulness and overall impact on the bottom line. One way they try to use this data is counting foot traffic and dividing the value with revenue to get a sense of conversion.

Five people shopping versus four people accompanying a single shopper will show the same number of customers yet very different conversion data. A majority of retailers we spoke with explained that the numbers can be misleading. Video-based solutions tend to tell only part of the story.

A few issues we learned about were differentiation between shoppers in large crowds, blind spots, people dressed similarly and laws in certain states prohibiting facial recognition in an area where minors are present.

These all contribute to gaps in data. Wifi-based solutions fall victim to common latency and connectivity issues.

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Also it requires that each and every shopper have a smartphone where wifi is enabled to give a complete picture. Our own company makes compromises but in many ways addresses issues these other solutions have while still providing a detailed understanding about what is happening in stores.

Eventually startups in this space will consolidate and make acquisitions in an effort to fill gaps in their offerings. Physical stores are using this data to close the loop between online marketing, in-store activity and supply chain.

If You Build It… Retailers are beginning to use product differentiation, local flash sales, in-store experiences in collaboration with neighboring retailers to bring people in. Excitement and exclusivity will be a huge factor as retailers tailor experiences to bring people back.

An interesting data point we found is that as Xennials and Millennials advance in their careers to become decision makers inside companies the apprehension to leverage technology and data diminishes.

The struggles of doing a retail job and providing customer service

They are less risk averse in deploying sophisticated strategies that helps them understand what is happening inside their stores and how they can tailor the experiences for each shopper persona.

Ultimately what retailers want is a story that can be told through data interpretation, insight and in the context of human behavior.

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From that story retailers are now beginning to understand what shoppers want like never before. So is retail dying? As a whole, no. The most recent evidence of this shift is Sears announcing that will sell Alexa enabled products on Amazon.I have a ton of valuable experience to provide to many companies as far as customer service and providing that community aspect for the company.

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