The retail sales floor. The fun stressful frantically dynamic heart of any retail businesses. The deal gets done. The pure joy! But who gets credit for the sale?
Before I dig in – compensation is a very tricky landscape. I am not advocating dropping a “new comp plan” on your organization (maybe you need to) nor am I blind to the retail owner trying to make a dollar go 110 ways. I hope you read this and really think about that one next thing you can do to better drive your business. Let’s start with that.
Ok – who gets the credit for the sale?
Two people involved in the sale. Was it the first person who spent hours lining up the perfect items for the customer? That “set-up person” who tee ’ed it up just perfectly. Or was it the closer? That skilled negotiator that addressed the final concerns/questions when the customer came back – carrying the ball across the goal line. As a retail owner – the revenue bell rang. Yet – from a sales effort perspective either could make a solid case that one enabled the other. Naturally that is a split. A fact of retail life as we know it. Fun isn’t it?! We are just getting started.
Paradigm shift. Now enter the world of the digitally influenced sale. Maybe it was an eCommerce order. Maybe a social commerce sale. Maybe – it was an in-store “close” with the customer doing all their research on your website (the digital equivalent of the “set-up person” above) yet the consumer elected to come in-store to do a physical validation of the product and you as a retailer. Let’s go one level further – the customer found the perfect sofa on your site – came in-store to validate – slipped by the most crafty of sales associates only to go home and buy it on your site. A pretty common occurrence. See the who gets credit clouds forming?!
This has been a never-ending debate since the web became “a thing” in the home furnishings industry. Retail and Reps and Vendors. It is a mess! The consumer path is no longer linear. It is not as simple as foot traffic and “ups” in the store. That order, wherever completed – is a result of that matrix path to purchase. A random consumer chosen sequence of engagement points – digital and physical.
Is there a magic button? That perfect solution? A one-sized fits all? I don’t think there is (deep sigh) – but there are things retailers can do to in efforts to find ways that work for your business. You just need to be willing to make change and turn willingness into continuous improvement action. There will be resistance – be forewarned; but you know this. Remember it’s a consumer journey matrix with levels of “murkiness” that have to be considered. The crossing of the threshold back and fourth between physical and digital is impossible to track with absolute clarity. But if you make ongoing efforts to connect the dots – you should find ways to engage all members of your team$.
Here are a couple approaches that I have seen in action. There is “something” in there for you.
Sales floor orders – You have this covered. But I will point out that the topics below will sway how you carve it up – so that 50/50 split may become a bit more complicated. Floor associates have to be accepting of the fact that things have changed and the customer is influenced by your online efforts (Designers with repeat clients – maybe not; that is something you have to evaluate). Your web efforts and expenditures do not just “magically” happen. Efforts take people. Most importantly – Employee motivation is a critical factor in retail and that sale has many more considerations as to who was involved. Let’s face it: money talks, but financial rewards need to be used and managed wisely as the landscape continues to evolve and change. With understanding – finding new ways to tailor the “split” will produce even better end results for your retail business.
Ecommerce cart orders. If you have a dedicated eCommerce team – commission them as you do. I caution all retailers that take the view that eCommerce is “house”. I propose that you create a “spiff pool” based on those eCommerce orders and divide it between your floor associates based on their individual performance. Why? There is a solid chance that the eCommerce customer had some interaction with an in-store staff member. Just as online influences in-store sales – your in-store team can influence online sales as well! If your website and store are seamless in process and experience, it probably happens more than you think. We are in an industry that thrives on the “butt test”. Customers still often validate the product (sit in it), the brand – and/or you as the retailer. The customer came in and spoke with someone (hopefully) to complete this task. But the sharp online consumer with a pure intent of recon – probably didn’t leave evidence of their visit. They validated – and went home and completed the sale (Hopefully with you). Should the in-store team not be motivated with a financial incentive to know your web activities and offerings “just in case”? What if a floor associate or designer were asked “Hey where is that sofa that is on your homepage”?? Financial incentive – the great motivator. Oh – guess what, I bet repeat customers will be more inclined to buy from your website without coming in that next time if they have a positive in-store sale prior; keeping in mind that their original journey did indeed start on your site with a great chance it transacted in store. They validated you then – and they may not feel the need to yet again validate the second (or third) time they buy from you. Maybe they do. A lot to ponder – but here is a takeaway. Give your in-store sales team a piece of the online action. It will drive behaviors and it will also reduce in channel conflicts! Oh, also make sure your website checkout has a place to prompt the customer “Did you work with someone on this order – let us know!” Customers are very willing to give credit if credit is due!
Digitally Influenced. Let’s not forget about your dedicated web team (I mentioned it above – but this is a different angle). Pre-COVID; a statistic commonly discussed was that approximately 70% of customers began their home furnishings buying journey online. Enter COVID – that number has skyrocked. No stat yet – but we all can agree it is just off the charts. Not solely due to eCommerce – though that is the headline we are all clinging to. Web is the key influencer of all things revenue! Consumers are fully armed with more knowledge on the “thing” they want than most floor associates are. It is a fact. They are bringing that high level of product awareness in-store. If they are not finding a satisfactory level of intel on YOUR website – they “bounce” to your competitor. (Look up bounce rate). Another key point – consumers are now COVID ultra selective if/when they do elect to go into a store (so you better have what is in-stock listed prominently, where it is located – and price your products online). Here is my thought logic. You have your web team. They do their jobs well. Yet they watch 90% or more of your sales volume happen on the floor and the floor team getting commissions/spiffs/attention/accolades. What if the web team (person) didn’t do their job well? What if they were properly “motivated$” to become even more skilled at their craft. A greater level of attention to the details. So many retailers are absolute; webcart sale or in-store sale. DO NOT FORGET about lead gen and sales enablement efforts. That online presence IS the main driver of your in-store sales volume.
What if you use a 3rd party for your site? Sorry. There is no magic turn-key – hands off the wheel website for retail. I know them all. Some better than others yes – but do not equate a catalog site for “I got this covered”. Your website is a living piece of your retail business. Think about how many times you navigate your showroom and fix, improve, clean, move, price, discuss, train. I often ask groups “before you made the trip here for this 4 day event – tell me what you did to your store to get ready for your time out of the office. The list is often extensive (as it should be). But then I ask “Did you also give your website that same level of attention?? Silence. You have a site – make it a key part of your business. That will take a DEDICATED resource or resources (people). Not just someone that has a newer phone equating to “web savvy” so they get to do your “web stuff” when they are done loading trucks, making deliveries, working the floor, entering vendor invoices, scheduling deliveries, etc etc. It just won’t happen. I think (hope) you get my thick with sarcasm point. Resource your web efforts as you do your main store. “Drive” and incentivize behaviors. You expect your website to be your “flagship” – treat it as such.
OK, that is a lot to ponder. We touched on 3 key roles in your business;
- Floor staff
- Dedicated eCommerce team
- Digital Team
I bet you have a staffing matrix as well with shared responsibilities. Take the concepts above and envision how the consumer’s matrixed journey to purchase overlays your matrixed team and find that one thing that fits. It is in there somewhere. Start there. Incremental improvements. It never stops.
Are we having fun yet?!