Movement toward contactless shopping for consultative products in post-pandemic world
Before Covid-19, shopping for electronics like mobile phones or televisions usually meant one-on-one attention. The typical scenario involved a sales associate offering a face-to-face consultation and a detailed demonstration to show how a product worked. Customers were able to interact, touch and feel the difference in products for comparison. In the post-pandemic world, the retail scenario involving consultative, prescriptive-type services will look much different for the foreseeable future.
A look-don’t-touch mentality
When it comes to the retail space, people are still hesitant to be near others, and they want to avoid touching products and surfaces. Consumers are searching for ways to limit contact with sales associates and they’re eager to adopt and embrace new technology that accomplishes their goals. While I expect online shopping, curbside pickup and home delivery options to continue to surge, I also see a bigger movement toward creative and convenient ways for people to transact business in brick-and-mortar spaces — with the least amount of contact as possible.
The future is now
Solutions that involve contactless sales interactions in the brick-and-mortar space were being developed way before the pandemic, but Covid-19 has accelerated this movement. At T-ROC, we are combining various technologies, like freestanding TVs and the ability to direct a video call to software, to connect customers with an available representative that can help them virtually. We’re also using our own internal software to collect data and send tailored information to customers based on their interests. For instance, if a customer is shopping for a TV, we can offer a quick comparison of the top 10 televisions, and email the information to the customer, along with links to the TVs they looked at that day.
Virtual interactive ambassadors
We know that robots could soon take over in-store jobs, such as greeters or directing customers to certain products, but the new wave of contactless help will also come with virtual assistants. At T-ROC, we are working with a global electronics company to combine the various technologies that are out there to create what’s called a “virtual interactive brand ambassador” or VIBA to help with the sales of prescriptive-type services and products. Think Siri or Alexa.
VIBA, basically a standing TV display that connects with a virtual associate, will be placed in stores to negate the need for an in-store sales agent to interact with customers. Imagine walking into a store and engaging with a device for a “FaceTime-like” experience to get advice or questions answered on complicated services or products, and then having products and services delivered to you.
With VIBA, a virtual sales associate can answer a customer’s questions, demonstrate a product or play a video. This technology also solves the problem of having to search for a sales agent in a store to help you or wait on someone to be available. In some cases, one virtual brand ambassador can handle 10 different stores at one time. If there is an overflow of customers, it will direct people to another available brand ambassador to solve their needs.
Dialed into social distancing
Mobile phones will also continue to be used as a major way for contactless shopping in stores. Instead of punching the buttons on credit card readers or swiping a credit card at point-of-sales (POS) terminals, retailers will need to rely on contactless payment methods for customers like mobile wallets, such as Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay. Customers want the ability to walk into a store and use their phone as a POS device. Instead of going to a register to checkout, they’re able to put items in a basket and make a purchase from their phone or tablet. Advanced shopping technology apps like Amazon Go, where consumers simply grab items and go without interacting with a live person, have already seen success.
To be successful, and make customers feel safe in your space, creativity and technology will win the race.
To learn more about Brett Beveridge, his company, T-ROC Global, his awards, speaking opportunities and upcoming ForbesBooks launch, visit www.brettbeveridge.com.
The Revenue Optimization Companies (T-ROC Global) is home to four sales solutions companies that enable clients to fulfill all of their sales performance needs. The companies are: The Retail Outsource (TRO), Mobile Insight (MI), The Consumer Insight (TCI), and SYMBITS.
Brett Beveridge is the founder and chief executive officer for The Revenue Optimization Companies (T-ROC Global). Beveridge is a serial entrepreneur who builds businesses from the ground up. Since founding T-ROC Global, the company has evolved to become a leader in the wireless, electronics, software and retail industries.
Source: South Florida Business Journal