Technology, In the Hands of the Associate?


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Over the last year, I’ve worked with clients who have explored the idea of empowering the retail shopper with more technology tools. From mobile phone apps to in-store kiosks, retailers have yet to identify the golden nugget that will transform the shopping experience and save comp store sales.

* Bloomingdale’s explored the interactive mirror allowing remote friends to view and participate in a shopper’s experience.
* Macy’s courted the Facebook user with shopkick allowing shoppers who entered a store with their iPhone to earn rewards (kickbucks)
* Neiman Marcus launched their holiday phone app providing holiday gift ideas to shoppers via their mobile device

But in each of those announcements, I see no mention of store associates.

Recent research with luxury shoppers provided insights that they weren’t looking for the next big technology idea; they simply wanted “help” when shopping and a simpler shopping experience.

Nordstrom must have been listening.

Nordstrom announced last month their intent to empower both the customer and the associate with a roll-out of mobile devices in its 200+ retail chain sometime this fall. While specifics are still unclear, it appears that the intent is to enhance the customer relationship and to facilitate the shopping experience. (Examples cited included being able to communicate from a dressing room with the sales associate for an alternative size or item. And, allowing associates to update customer history records and to send thank-you notes with the new technology.)

Rather than use technology to glamorize the shopping experience with bells and whistles, Nordstrom appears to be using it to facilitate the experience and foster the customer relationship. Seems to be exactly what customers say they’re looking for.

Guy Dilger
As a LoyaltyOne consultant, Guy advises on best practices in all areas of loyalty marketing, including program development and implementation, relationship marketing strategy and tactical planning and execution. He draws on a wealth of experience in creating loyalty solutions for high-profile brands, with a particular expertise in supporting strategic marketing goals with innovative tactics designed to drive revenue and market share.


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