How often have you shopped online and longed to be able to ask someone in store what they have in stock, how the sizing works, and which handbag they’d recommend to match the slingbacks you’re lusting after?
Well, of course, in the age of problem-solving digital technology, it’s already happening. Retailers across luxury, leather goods, apparel, homewares, beauty and technology are using a system called Hero® to digitise thousands of stores worldwide – directly connecting shoppers live with associates in store.
Requiring only an in-store app to get started, Hero means that store associates can make more of quiet periods in-store by using their selling and relationship-building skills live online. Hero reports a ten times higher conversion rate for online customers and a 40% higher spend at checkout when they live shop with an in-store associate. Customers who use Hero are also 50% more likely to keep the items they purchase, which goes some way to solving the returns problem.
Trigger conversations and build lasting friendships
The Retail Connections team enjoyed a demo of the technology, delivered by Edd Hayer (pictured left) from Hero who was exhibiting at the British Retail Consortium’s Reinvention Retail event on May 22nd.
At the event’s ‘Future Zone’, Hayer explained how Hero has worked with retailers including Ted Baker, Heal’s, Harvey Nichols and Levi’s, providing a system that enables online shoppers to trigger a conversation with store staff if they need more advice about a product or want to ask specific questions that only an associate can answer. This live chat with a real store employee helps out the customer enormously, has the potential to drive traffic into store, and provides the perfect opportunity to build an ongoing relationship with the customer.
In-store tablets act as selling tools
Think of Hero as a way to supercharge clienteling in stores.
In-store style advisors can provide their expertise to customers who are browsing the brand website at home, particularly during busy hours online and quieter trading hours in-store. Sending recommendations, photos of the latest collections and even live video broadcasts, style advisors provide a highly visual 1:1 shopping experience that brings product collections to life.
Benefits to retailers – the ‘black book’ of old
There are many benefits. This is a neat way of expanding the store experience online – the next best thing to actually being in store, and of course such direct help should lead to sales that may otherwise have been lost. Store associates may stay in touch with valued customers – by using a Black Book contact system – and this provides endless opportunities to encourage future online and instore sales, Hayer explained. There will be employee engagement too, as the Hero application puts huge selling potential and personal creativity into the hands of individual retail staff members – they become the heroes of this omnichannel retail/customer relationship.
One challenge is that staff may look as though they are looking at their own phones while in store, but Hayer says that this is a perception that will disappear as the services become more widely used in retail. Also, the system is only used when store staff are available to accept requests for help. A ‘no-one available’ message can be seen online if the store is busy – say, during the run up to Christmas and other peak trading days throughout the year.
How Heal’s uses Hero to bond with shoppers across the digital divide
Through its partnership with Hero, Heal’s is now able to bring its expertise, personal service and in-store experience to millions of shoppers online.
With shoppers constantly looking for new ways to engage with their favourite stores, customers on Heals.com that require advice and inspiration when browsing online, can now tap a button and connect live with an expert style advisor in one of Heal’s world famous stores.
“For more than two centuries Heal’s has been designing, making and selling quality furniture. Hero is helping us remain at the forefront of retail, enabling our online customers to access in real-time the knowledge and passion of our in-store experts,” said David Kohn, Ecommerce Director, Heal’s.
Enabling online customers to shop in this way on heals.com has proven successful for the company. “Customers engaging with Hero convert at 14 times our normal rate and their average order value is 57% higher,” said Kohn.
That sounds pretty heroic to us!
Find out more about Hero at www.usehero.com