How Retail Store “Apps” are Shaping The Next Generation of Store Associates

The last year brought with it a whole host of changes that have transformed the shopping experience – for shoppers and store teams alike. Ecommerce has boomed, growing to almost $3 trillion in 2020, and mobile eCommerce is a big part of that. Brands often use mobile shopping apps to bring online experiences closer to shoppers, but with the dawning of the virtual store, they can now go a step further. 

Retail store apps are giving brands the ability to power incredibly human experiences through online channels. With a Virtual Shopping platform like HERO, which provides a retail store app to speak directly with online shoppers, product experts can connect with a previously unseen customer base using livestreams, video calls, and real-time messaging to create virtual experiences that are as engaging and personalized as in-person ones. In the new age of virtual shopping, brands are looking for ways to step up their game by recreating IRL experiences online – and retail store apps are fast becoming the secret for success.

Retail Apps: Designed to Empower Your Product Experts

With online customers 21x more likely to go on and buy something after interacting with an associate, store teams are becoming more important than ever. 

With the power of retail apps, teams are gaining the tools they need to connect with customers, using new forms of social shopping and shoppable media to engage with them through online channels. Liberty of London, for instance, has partnered with Hero to recreate the unique experience of their physical stores, using the Hero app to connect Liberty store associates with online customers through video consultations. As well as being great for customers (Liberty customers who are shopping online spend an average of 78% more after interacting with in-store video content), app-powered consultations inspire associates to be creative and gives them another route to commission. 

With an ability to power human-driven virtual interactions, retail apps ultimately represent a new way for in-store product experts to deliver for eCommerce as well as brick and mortar – and here’s how: 

Create a One-to-One Connection with Video Calling 

Shoppers’ desire for human-driven commerce hasn’t gone away. In fact, it’s more apparent than ever with 46% of customers still preferring shopping in-person over shopping online. In-person retail experiences allow store associates to interact with customers one-to-one, delivering tailored recommendations and sharing advice that gives them the confidence to follow through with a purchase. In other words, retail apps are creating a new frontier for personalization. With video calling and live message capabilities, associates can undertake virtual consultations with customers as they browse online in real-time. Not only do these consultations help to drive website conversions, but they bring the team’s human touch and specialized product expertise on to online channels. 

In the case of men’s clothing retailer UNTUCKit, teams found that using video chats helped to maximize sales, with 88% of customers going on to make a purchase within 24 hours of chatting to an associate. That’s not all, app-powered video calling also enables teams to turn website traffic into footfall with 1 out of 3 online customers choosing to buy from a physical store after consulting with a product expert.

Seamless Personalisation with Clienteling Features

Retail apps are ensuring teams can stick with shoppers throughout their entire journey. Clienteling features in particular are becoming a must-have feature for retailers hoping to establish lifetime loyalty with their customers. One-to-one messaging through text, email and WhatsApp allow teams to keep in contact with customers even after they’ve left the store, letting them know when items are restocked or when new collections have dropped. Clienteling is also helping brands to see noticeable improvements in sales. For instance, after bringing clienteling features into online operations, Accent Group recorded a 5x increase in conversion rates.

Using a retail app for clienteling brings its own set of advantages. As well as driving repeat purchases, using a dedicated app ensures every team member has access to the full picture. Instead of reaching out to shoppers through individual numbers, all customer histories and notes are kept within a single ecosystem. As a result, store associates can continue to personalize individual customer interactions, even after team members move on.

Bring Online Experiences to Life with Video Shopping

Retail app capabilities are growing to enable teams to deliver one-to-many communication, as well as create one-to-one connections. Customers don’t necessarily need to undertake a virtual consultation, especially if they’re looking for a quick answer. With the Hero app, product experts have the power to share recommendations through bitesize content. These Instagram-style videos are fast to produce and let associates bring products to life.

Instagram stories have revolutionized the way brands can reach out to their customer base. Brands like Glossier have built their image around social media, using social posts to engage with millennial audiences using short-form content. Hero’s shoppable stories, however, are redefining the role of store teams by allowing them to become content creators. Shoppable videos are letting associates flourish, giving them the space to create authentic content that customers can shop from in real-time. Brands such as Size?, for instance, are using this to give their experts a platform to share authentic product stories while showcasing their favorite sneakers and apparel. As another bonus, these broadcasted videos can also be upcycled throughout a brand’s website and various social channels, helping associate-driven content to go further. 

As the retail landscape continues to evolve and the lines between physical and online channels begin to merge, store associate teams have an opportunity to redefine their role. With the help of retail apps, the influence of store teams is no longer confined to a physical store. With app-powered clienteling, virtual consultations and video shopping, an in-store associate’s knowledge and expertise can be used to bring a whole new level of human touch to online experiences. To put it simply, in an age where retail is transforming, it looks like retail apps are quickly becoming an invaluable tool for the future. 

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About Hero®

Add the “IRL” experience to your online store, with the #1 virtual shopping platform. Headquarted in London and New York. Hero is trusted by brands including Levi’s, Nike, Herman Miller and LVMH.