It isn’t exactly breaking news that the retail industry has changed drastically and continues to evolve. But despite what you may have heard, brick-and-mortar stores are not becoming irrelevant. That being said, retailers must be willing and able to change with the times and integrate digital experiences into their brick-and-mortar locations. If they don’t, you may see that “going out of business” sign on the door after all.
Digital transformation needs to start with employees
Many retailers think the best way to go digital is to start throwing all of their money and resources at the Customer Experience (CX). But while CX is certainly an essential part of any digital transformation, businesses need to set some dollars aside for the Worker Experience as well. Particularly in retail, associates and managers are the face of a brand, and they are the ones that can make or break the brick-and-mortar experience for customers. And for many brands, there is currently a huge gap between the information customers can get online and what they can learn from store associates. In fact, research from Google conducted with Ipsos Media CT and Sterling Brands suggests that 2 in 3 retail customers aren’t finding the information they need in the store, and nearly half (43 percent) are leaving those stores feeling frustrated.
Arming store associates with the digital tools to help their customers find what they need, give them recommendations, and personalize the shopping experience can create happy customers and brand advocates. According to Google, a whopping 85 percent of shoppers say they’d be more likely to shop in stores that offer personalized coupons and exclusive offers in-store. Having that type of tailored experience will not only prevent customers from leaving the store frustrated, but will instead keep them coming back again and again — and hopefully bringing their friends.
Connect and empower retail workers with Google for Work
One of the biggest complaints we hear from retailers — whether they have 3 stores or 3,000 — is that they struggle to connect and engage employees across the organization. Many retail workers don’t even have an email address, and rely on secondhand information from their managers or memos posted on the breakroom bulletin board. Any retailer looking to make a digital transformation cannot operate this way. Retail associates need to be empowered with current, relevant information if they want to provide great customer experiences. Connected and engaged workers = loyal and satisfied customers. We call this the Virtuous Cycle.
To create an engaged and empowered workforce, retailers need to connect store associates and managers with real-time sales tools, product information, and better access to customer data. Tools like Google Apps and Drive for Work, Google Search for Work, and Chrome for Work can help transform the Worker Experience, and tools like Google Map Engine and the Google Cloud Platform can help customers find what they need with indoor maps on their devices. Think of retail customers like a patient entering their doctor’s office. Just like patients (hopefully) don’t need to provide their medical history every time they go in for a checkup, retail shoppers shouldn’t have to explain their preferences, style, and shopping history to associates every time they shop — associates should have that information at their fingertips when a customer enters the store. Otherwise, customers will be more likely to stick with shopping online, where their preferences are already saved.
Change management is key
Implementing Google for Work in your retail organization will undoubtedly lead to a superior Worker Experience, and inevitably, a better Customer Experience as well. But don’t take for granted the impact that any kind of change can have on an organization. Even the best technology implementations can be met with resistance, as it’s human nature (for most people anyway) to resist change or, at the very least, to get frustrated during a transition period. That’s why change management is so critical to making sure the move is as seamless and pain-free as possible.
Consider this ancient chinese proverb: “Tell me, I will forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I will understand.” It’s crucial not to just “push out” change to an organization with little regard for training and employee involvement. Our consultants often hear from frustrated workers who felt that they were forced to use a new system for which they had no training, and many of whom — while excited about a new technology — had no idea how to use it correctly. We also often hear that they don’t like (even hate) traditional corporate training where they sit in a room for hours trying to learn a new system all at once.
For a successful Google for Work deployment, it’s important to create a robust learning calendar and establish goals and key performance indicators for employees. The ability to access training through contextual learning, short videos, user adoption sites, and quick reference guides can also make a huge impact.
Learn more about making the move to Google for Work in Appirio’s Guide to Going Google.