No Thanks, I’m Just Looking…

“Can I help you?”

How often to we, as consumers, hear this greeting when we are in the shopping environment?  And, what do we always say? “No thanks…”

Obviously best practices training teaches sales associates to ask open-ended questions as opposed to “can I help you?”   In the end, it IS about the people… the sales associates’ role in driving conversion is irrefutable.  A knowledgeable, unobtrusive, and, well, helpful sales associate can dramatically increase a retailer’s KPIs of sales per square foot, GMROI, and many other productivity metrics.

However, retailers continue to invest in more mechanical efficiency levers like stock-outs, plan-o-grams, etc.  Some new research by Serguei Netessine at INSEAD shows that many retailers might be better served by understanding more about human efficiency analytics and metrics.

Here is a passage from his very interesting article in the HBR:

“The most innovative employee managers we know use business analytics to understand the differences in how individual store associates perform. When these retailers make dynamic adjustments, therefore, they are not only deciding how many but who in particular to move to a sales floor.”

Key takeaways include:

  • Understanding in-store consumer traffic patterns
  • Educating store employees how to meet consumers’ needs
  • Flexing staffing (and specific sales associates) to seize the knowledge above

Check out the HBR story here:


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