Can store associates work from home?

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A while ago I visited Nordstrom in Seattle to visit management. During a visit to the store, I was accidentally informed of a women’s shoe salesperson who had a list of customers he called when new shoes arrived or a sale was about to happen. to end. He was one of the top producers in the shoe department. He had a list of clients, and each name had an annotation of preferences. Some shoes probably never hit the sales floor because he had the chance to tell his customers about the fabulous new purchases.

The veteran salesperson was working longer hours in the store as his calls promised him sales and commissions.

Fast forward – can this salesperson work from home and produce the volume of sales Nordstrom expects them to produce? Probably not. He must be at the point of sale to convince his customers of the quality, look and fit of every shoe he tries to sell.

There is a debate right now about whether the pandemic has forced a different attitude. Remote work has become the norm for countless people in industries ranging from healthcare to education and even real estate. Realtors show homes from a distance, but open viewings still help sell homes and properties.

Just like in the footwear business, people want to see properties and houses before making a lifelong decision. So the real estate agent is on the phone and also scrambling to keep appointments in person.

There is debate over whether retail stores can allow associates to work from home. However, retail faces a bigger challenge because much of the industry still needs that one-on-one personal interaction.

In brick-and-mortar stores, a top salesperson can sell fashion to those who are not fashionable because she has developed trust in the sales space. The children’s clothing saleswoman has children herself and really loves children. Therefore, she can sell children’s clothes to young children who do not want to buy clothes.

Stores often rely on their top salespeople to shape the look of a department and ultimately sell the right look to the right person at the right time. The experience and relationships that lead to a successful sale are learned and executed on the sales floor.

Some retailers are testing live streaming from remote locations, and they have videos to describe the feel and fit of a garment.

Retailers are also embracing influencers and Neiman Marcus is piloting a program to formalize social media content processes for style advisors. Whenever style advisors are enlightened about the merchandise they are showcasing, they become a strong advocate for that product. However, it is still up to the seller to close the sale and bring the honey home.

Of course, there may be ways to reduce the cost of selling in physical stores. Self-service checkouts, which were launched in grocery stores, will migrate to general merchandise stores. Salespeople with customer phone numbers can have one day a week to stay home and make phone calls and appointments for customers to come into the store. Or maybe there will be a dedicated area in the store for making calls.

POST SCRIPTUM : Labor shortages, evident last Christmas when retailers couldn’t find enough qualified salespeople, are forcing retailers to find new ways to care for their customers. New technology with AI will help. However, the sale must be made by men and women who inspire confidence, who demonstrate an intimate knowledge of the merchandise that management has entrusted to them to sell.


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