UK retailers are evolving the role of the store associate, with 40% of UK retailers planning to use store associates to engage in digital conversational commerce in the next two years, new research from iAdvize, the leading conversational commerce provider, suggests.
Original research of 53 senior UK retailers in the ‘Blueprint For The New Digital Store Associate’ report from iAdvize revealed that, with 40% of UK shoppers now wanting human interaction in the online buying process*, customer service functionality that blends human and digital touchpoints proved a key investment priority for UK retail businesses. Capabilities that bridge the online/offline customer experience gap made up four out of the top five investment priorities for retailers over the next 24 months, the new research revealed.
Almost two thirds (64%) of UK retailers plan to invest in live messaging capabilities with customer service agents – either through online messaging or chat functions. In app customer service agents (37%), social media influencers (21%) and online brand ambassadors (19%) also featured in the top five investment focuses when it came to customer service.
In the same way retailers are looking to deliver human interaction in online encounters, retail businesses also plan to use in-store staff to answer digital queries. Over half (58%) of the retail leaders polled as part of the research wanted to digitise store staff by giving them online capabilities, while two-fifths (40%) said they plan to use store associates to engage in digital conversational commerce when store footfall is light.
Stuart Gordon, UK Country Manager at iAdvize, commented: “Retailers realise that store staff need access to quality customer, stock and order insights in general, but even more so if they are going to make a valuable contribution to the online customer journey, successfully closing the customer experience gap.”
“There is a growing realisation within bricks-and-mortar retail that physical stores need to focus on what pureplays cannot do, rather than trying to compete on their home territory of price, friction-free convenience and ease of delivery. And that means unlocking human capital to offer quality insight, delivered with ‘emotional’ human interaction,” he concluded.
To find out more about how retailers are planning to invest in delivering blended customer service that supports high-intent shoppers on their path to purchase, download the full report here.