Beating Amazon’s 2-Hour Delivery
Online retailers are constantly becoming more efficient and more convenient. Customers are able to browse entire stores at the click of a mouse, scrolling through dozens of options in seconds. Delivery is getting faster, with retailers like Amazon offering unlimited two-day delivery for a low cost of $99/year. But now there’s yet another innovation with Amazon Prime Now, which, in 30 metro areas across the country, allows those with Amazon Prime membership to purchase more than 25,000 items with a guaranteed two-hour delivery. This service can be used for necessities like milk, diapers, food, and cleaning supplies, as well as other things like office supplies and toys.
For brick-and-mortar retailers, this is quickly becoming a problem, as they have to adapt to these new advances or suffer the consequences of being left behind. But what does that change look like? Investment in technology is one step in the right direction, but it is only one piece of the puzzle. There’s one element that we constantly forget but is the most important asset for brick-and-mortar retailers: store associates.
Fighting Back with Store Associates
There are a couple of ways that store associates can be leveraged against the convenience of online retailers:
- Keeping Store Operations Smooth and Consistent:
62% of shoppers prefer to shop in stores so they can see, touch, and feel items.1 This means that store associates need to be used as a way to create a seamless customer experience, making items readily available for customers so that they don’t have to spend extra time trying to find them. Using a real-time store operations solution can alert mobile-enabled store associates of any immediate store needs, ensuring that shelves are more consistently stocked and items are ready for in-store pickups on-time. Increasing the convenience of brick-and-mortar stores can keep customers from switching exclusively to online retailers.
- Providing Store Associates With Information and Training:
83% of shoppers believe they’re more knowledgeable than retail store associates, but 79% say that knowledgeable store associates are important.2 This shows a disconnect between what customers want from store associates and what store associates are actually providing customers. Bridging that disconnect means supplying store associates with the information and the training necessary to truly be of help. This could mean giving them mobile devices that they can use to access information about products or even a customer’s history at the store. This could also mean implementing a labor scheduling solution, to align labor with customer demand, and also give store managers back precious time that is spent on administrative tasks such as manual scheduling. Store managers can use those hours to provide better training to store associates. Providing additional support for store associates makes them better resources for customers, bridging the disconnect between the service customers want and the service customers are receiving.
Amazon Prime Now amplifies a growing challenge for brick-and-mortar retailers. There are increasingly convenient online alternatives that are going to market, taking business away from retailers that don’t have the resources to utilize the same alternatives. However, store associates are a powerful way to combat these challenges, as they can be used to improve store operations and provide better information to customers.