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Why Your Customers Are Leaving Empty-Handed (And What to Do About It)

BY CSA STAFF

By Gary Ambrosino, TimeTrade Systems

Retailers are bending over backwards to meet the growing demands of today’s ever-connected consumer; however, most are still coming up short. The traditional rinse-and-repeat practices — slashing prices, offering free shipping and promoting exclusive products — aren’t winning over fickle consumers or helping gain a leg up on the competition.

A major part of the problem: retailers aren’t investing in the areas that consumers really want, according to a new survey of more than 1,000 shoppers. Mobile apps and online shopping can’t replace face-to-face interactions with knowledgeable store associates.

Before retailers start shuffling plans for 2014, or even getting a head start on 2015 planning, take a look at what consumers revealed. The results may surprise you.

Where Retailers Are Missing the Mark
Although most consumers are attached to their devices, they are craving a human connection, and want easier ways to get the face-to-face guidance. Having an overwhelming amount of information at their fingertips — product reviews, customer forums, opinions on social media — isn’t making the buying process easier.

According to the survey findings, more than half of consumers step foot into stores without knowing exactly what to buy — revealing a huge opportunity for retailers to directly influence the buying process. Unfortunately, of those who need help making up their mind, 93% can’t find the right person to help them, and 90% will leave the store empty-handed.

When asked about their standout in-store experiences, consumers revealed the two most sought-after traits of retail associates when shoppers are looking for this help: fast, convenient service and smart recommendations. Turns out, consumers are really looking for is a little personal attention when they shop, and admit that makes the difference between completed sales and walking out the door with money in their pockets.

What makes this problem even worse: retailers know how valuable their in-store employees are when trying to convert indecisive browsers to paying customers: 80% of retailers that noted that sales increase by 25%-50% when shoppers are assisted by knowledgeable associates. That’s a tremendous missed opportunity.

So What Do Consumers Really Want?
When consumers do find the help they need from in-store associates, 93% are likely to complete their purchase. And there’s an even biggest upshot for retailers: Not only that, 85% are likely to purchase more than they had intended when they get the answers and guidance they walked into the store seeking.

The byproducts of one standout, in-store experience can leave lasting impacts on a retail brand. Overall, after being assisted by a knowledgeable in-store representative, 84% of the surveyed consumers leave the store more satisfied and 90% would shop with that retailer again.

Technology can’t replace or replicate the power of spot-on recommendations from the exact person who can help an indecisive shopper. Rather, technology should allow consumers to more easily find that associate. Nearly 75% of consumers would book personal appointments before walking into stores, if given the opportunity, which allows retailers to know exactly what shoppers need in advance and can ensure that customers get exceptional, personalized service every time they shop.

If retailers are looking to bolster sales in 2014, they need to refocus on the customer using their greatest asset: in-store staff. Slashing prices might be a way to get a customer to walk in the door, but it’s the experience that keeps them coming back.

Gary Ambrosino is president & COO of TimeTrade Systems, whose responsive customer engagement platform allows consumers to connect with a brand, anywhere, anytime — and then gives companies deeper insight than ever before about what consumers want next. He can be reached at [email protected].


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Wilson looks to score with digital basketball

BY CSA STAFF

Wilson plans to introduce a sensor equipped basketball that can discern between made and missed shots and then feed information to a smartphone or tablet.

Due for release later this year, the new product is the result of a partnership with SportIQ, a Finland-based company focused on artificial intelligence, and Wilson’s recently established digital division.

“We are not pursuing the launch of a digital basketball for the sake of launching a digital product. Wilson has a long history of true product innovation," said Alan Davenport, Wilson’s global director of basketball. "This intelligent basketball brings a unique approach to training through real-time statistic generation delivered to a smart device. The opportunities for individual and coach-directed training are truly unlimited."

According to Harri Hohteri, CEO of SportIQ, the company taught the ball to differentiate between a made shot and a missed shot and we deliver this data to a smart device with no attachments to the rim or additions of any kind.

"During my career as a professional basketball player in Europe, I would have benefited greatly from this type of understanding around my training,” Hohteri said. “What was my shooting percentage from different distance ranges or areas on the court? What did I need to be working on? We’re now bringing our high basketball IQ to the field of digital technology to answer these questions.”

Even though the new ball won’t hit the market until the holiday season, Wilson execs are already alluding to the possibility of smart ball technology coming to other sports.

"We recognize the growing trend around the ‘Internet of things’ and are working to deliver real consumer-centric solutions for the world of sport," said Tom Gruger, Wilson’s vp of digital. "From training to gaming, we want to delight our target players on this new virtual field of play. Our upcoming basketball launch is the first step in an exciting new area of innovation from Wilson."

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Kohl’s urges shoppers to find their “Yes”

BY CSA STAFF

A new ad campaign from Kohl’s featuring several feel-good family spots positions the retailer as a destination where shoppers can find their “Yes.”

In a one-minute-long introductory spot featuring designer Vera Wang, a voice-over says, “to the thing that matter most to you we at Kohl’s say, ‘Yes.’” Additional spots are focused on life stage events designed to resonate with young families Kohl’s considers its core customer segment. The spots are shot point-of-view style with one featuring a mom teaching a daughter to ride a bike and a second from the perspective of a young boy jumping off the high diving board for the first time.

“There are very few moments in the lifetime of a brand when you have the opportunity to refresh who you are and how you connect with customers," said Michelle Gass, Kohl’s chief customer officer. “This is our moment and ‘Yes’ is our voice. It is authentic and grounded in our heritage. We know that every day, people have a choice. We celebrate choosing ‘Yes’ and we want to empower our customers to embrace ‘Yes’ in their daily lives. We want to inspire our customers to find their ‘Yes’ at Kohl’s.”

According to Wang, the concept of “Yes” is about embracing new possibilities and being open to adventure and a new journey.

“Designing a lifestyle brand for Kohl’s was my ‘Yes’ moment, affording me the opportunity to bring all my experience and passion for fashion and style to clothing, accessories and home,” Wang said. “‘Yes’ for me means expanding my creative vision for more women. ‘Yes’ equals Kohl’s.”

And what would a new ad campaign be without a strong online and social media component. Accordingly, customers are invited to participate in the campaign by sharing their personal “Yes” moments using #FindYourYes which could be shared on Kohl’s social channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

The full commercials can be viewed at www.youtube.com/Kohls.

Kohl’s operates 1,162 stores in 49 states and is coming off a year in which same store sales declined 1.2% and fourth quarter same store sales declined 2%.

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