30 July 2020
Author: Linzi McGuire
Did you know that in most stores, not all the staff you see work for the retailer? Many will work for the brand themselves, either directly or indirectly through an agency. In many sectors, particularly health and beauty, premium retail and technology, this is a great way for brands to support stores and deliver the experience the consumer seeks, all while selling more in the process.
So, what are the benefits of branded D2C staff in retail? Here’s 3 reasons brands can’t afford not to do it:
60% of consumers value a brand’s authenticity in everything it does, whilst 47% of consumers expect brands to translate their values and promises into new and innovative products and services. The benefit of having brand ambassadors in-store is that you are in control of telling the brand story, identifying need and selling the benefits of your brand to consumers, all while creating engaging experiences.
Now more than ever, consumers need support to affirm their need. During a time where many are reassessing their affordability, consumers need to feel good about their spending, particularly when it comes to non-essential purchases, to be able to justify it to themselves. This affirmation may come from the knowledge and confidence of the person selling the product – if they know their stuff, confirm the consumer’s need and make them feel good about how brand x or product y will make their life better, the consumer will leave with a positive feeling that they’ve done the right thing, instead of guilt or uncertainty.
Brands need to focus consumer engagement on reassurance and confidence building to continuously reinforce the value of products, services and the company itself.
In addition, the online shift, combined with people working and shopping at different times means retail needs more help than ever to get their online strategy right. Brands can support by helping to join up the online and the offline experience.
Services like Go Instore combined with brand specialists on the shop floor enable consumers to speak to a real person in outlet and get live demos and recommendations, all via the retailer’s website from the comfort, safety and convenience of their own home.
Here’s a tried and tested case study from a campaign we ran for HP in Curry’s PC World. Not only did the campaign generate an increase in sales, but it brought more people to store because they arrived with purpose for an appointment instead of browsing without intent.
Selling direct to the consumer expands your brand’s opportunities to delight customers with every interaction they have with your products. Happy customers are more likely to recommend your brand and become brand advocates and evangelists, the ultimate asset to any brand.
A real benefit of D2C is that actively selling or engaging directly with the consumer allows brands to collect massive amounts of consumer data. So much so that this may be the most compelling reason to do it in the first place.
Brand ambassadors, through direct and authentic engagement, can collect data on things like consumer behaviour and need, barriers to entry, thoughts and opinions on competitor brands, and demographic profiling per geography, all in a conversation, without it feeling like the consumer is being grilled.
They can also collect data on peak and off-peak traffic periods over time.
Sales and transactional data can also be added into the mix, from EPOS and ecommerce sales via the brand ambassadors, whether sales occur in person in store or via interactive online chat like Go Instore.
All this combined can help brands to understand the why behind behaviour or preference, adding invaluable qualitative insight layers over the raw numbers.
This intelligence can help brands to provide tailored or personalised shopping experiences, which reports suggest as many as 75% of consumers prefer.
In addition to improving the end-to-end customer journey, data analytics can also be used to understand where and when brand ambassadors can generate the most value, which leads us nicely onto our final point.
The lines between channels have blurred. Over the past few months, sales and service organisations have had to throw out the rule book to create continuity for consumers. As a result, the foundation has been set for organisations to think more holistically about the flexibility and fluidity of their workforce across consumer engagement touchpoints.
Flexible engagement models could be the answer to delivering the seamless experience consumers demand.
Brands and retailers who invest in data collection and analytics, combined with flexible teams across channels and geography will be the ones to thrive. They need to prepare for the future of digital engagement versus digital transactions. The power in the data is the insight, and this insight will direct the resource to the most valuable locations, channels, and times to generate the biggest return.
The speed at which they build and deploy these capabilities will become a source of competitive advantage and the degree to which they can sustain them will become a source of cost advantage.
But how do they approach such a radical change to resource deployment and responding to live data?
As mentioned in previous blogs, we expect many organisations, brands and retailers alike, to revisit their resourcing mix, looking at opportunities to expand partnerships with expert third-party agencies to share operational risk, create capacity for volume fluctuations, gain expertise in data analytics, and increase resilience.
Brands and retailers should seek to align themselves with partners who can prove they can effectively hire, recruit, manage and retain new types of talent cost effectively, while increasing ROI vs managing. Success will require high levels of strategic collaboration, redefining the partnership contracting models and incentive structures of old.
Nothing could be worse for brands or retail right now than a return to normality. Change is the constant here. Brands and retailers must work together to win this battle, collaborating with expert agencies to deliver this.
Linda Gallagher, Managing Director of Wave, comments, “Now is the time for brands to step up their Brand Ambassador presence in retail. Brands need retail to thrive and that only happens by giving consumers a reason to go to store or engage online. Consumer spending is driven by confidence and a feeling of need, something that brands are well positioned to establish through the presence of Brand Ambassadors, and their knowledge, passion and expertise can create a personal connection that makes a huge difference to the experience in store. Not only will this put the brand front of mind for consumers, it’ll deliver invaluable consumer data that helps the brand set their strategy in an ever-changing environment. Our ability to deliver this for brands in an agile way means that the approach is open to any brand, irrespective of their budget, enabling them to invest with confidence of a return.”