It is no secret the internet is an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to obtaining the everyday goods we need in a relatively short timeframe.
As consumers, the ability to order and purchase groceries, clothing, homeware, gifts and the like from our homes or while on the daily commute is all too easy, especially when it involves products you buy regularly and trust will fulfil their purpose on delivery.
But when it comes to higher cost goods, products you only buy a handful of times in a lifetime, the desire to learn everything there is to know about that product still drives a substantial number of consumers back into stores.
In a study carried out by global media agency UM, 41 per cent of shoppers will carry out online research when it comes to more expensive items, comparing prices and weighing up their options, but will still make a trip to a store to buy it.
Most importantly, they arrive in store loaded with burning questions and the desire to try out and learn how to use the product first hand.
This is where expertise and human connection become vital as selling tools.
A website cannot interact with its customer on a personal level like a human being can, nor can it demonstrate how to use an appliance or device to meet each individual’s needs, like an in-store expert can.
One-to-one interaction is a crucial part of the journey for a customer who is about to part with a sizeable chunk of their hard-earned salary on something like a smart TV or high-end coffee machine.
They need to feel they will get the most from their purchase and have the confidence to operate it successfully at home.
Brands underprepared or poorly trained to offer such expertise in-store will ultimately lose out to those who prioritise product knowledge and make it their business to eat, sleep, demonstrate, repeat.
Competition at point of purchase is fierce. A great looking product with a glossy point of sale will not succeed without sound staff knowledge to reinforce the product’s capabilities.
Take Dyson, for example, who showcase their products at their impressive demo store which, in their words, “is a place that brings to life the science and engineering” of their machines.
Appointments can be made with their in-store stylists who can demonstrate products one on one, so you really get a feel for what you’re buying before you take the plunge.
Lush is another brand working hard to boost in-store experiences for its customers, maximising on opportunities to interact one-to-one with them to ensure connections are made and relationships are formed.
They offer extensive product advice from well trained staff and the chance to road test them on the spot before a purchase is made.
More importantly, at eight of their locations spa treatments are also available and a ‘HairLab’ is now in situ at their Liverpool store – all excellent vehicles to get to know customers at close range.
The human connection is real, and we have the data to prove it.
It is becoming ever more apparent the traditional retail model is in free-fall and, in order to hold onto those still keen to shop in-store, companies need to embrace change and equip their representatives with expert-level knowledge to pass onto their customers with conviction.
In one of our own, numerous examples, a store with product-savvy brand ambassadors at the helm, compared to those without, achieved an average sales uplift of more than 400 per cent.
Further research carried out on our behalf by web agency Toluna, shows eight out of ten shoppers would be encouraged to buy a product after an in-store demonstration.
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