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With growing customer expectations and direct-to-consumer brands gaining momentum (and market share), you may be wondering, how can brick and mortar excel in this new environment? At the Future Stores East Conference in Miami, leading retailers shared their hypothesis on building for the store of the future and the role technology, people, and processes will play in evolving the customer experience.

While AI and other emerging technologies received notable mentions, one thing is clear – store associates will continue to play a critical role in delivering a remarkable customer experience in-store, even as brick and mortar becomes increasingly digitized.

Meet rising expectations with consultative sales practices

Store operations leaders will be familiar with the age-old sales mantra, ABC or “always be closing”. This expression has previously been used to encourage store associates to find the quickest opportunities for a sale when interacting with a customer in-store. According to Gene Lunger, EVP, Licensee Operations, Business Development & Retail Education at Ashley HomeStore, this model is no longer sufficient to meet the rising expectations of today’s customers.

Instead, Lunger recommends that brands focus on consultative sales practices, which helps store associates uncover the unique needs and preferences of customers to effectively guide them along their path to purchase. Leading retailers that are able to encourage genuine associate-customer interactions, with a focus on consulting-like practices, will be able to deliver more personalized in-store experiences and improve overall customer satisfaction.

Empower store associates by sharing the “how”

To develop consultative sales practices in-store, frontline store associates must not only be empowered to take ownership of their role in delivering the customer experience but also understand the specific actions that will deliver the right experience. To do so, April Wagner, Sr. Director of Customer Experience Strategy at Best Buy, shared her methodology for enabling Best Buy associates to deliver on their customer experience vision.

Wagner shared that developing a CX vision provides a north star for all of an organization’s efforts, aligning associates to deliver not just a positive experience but the right positive experience — one that delivers on the promise of your brand. Once a brand’s north star has been established, it can then be broken down into the actions and behaviors store associates can take to deliver the experience customers need, want and expect from your organization.

At Nudge, we believe that technology can help brands influence and inspire store associates to deliver consistent and remarkable in-store experiences. To learn more, check out our Lookbook,written especially for experience-driven brands who are seeking more meaningful experiences for their customers through their physical footprint.