Store associates are the last resource shoppers turn to when making purchase decisions because they have a reputation for being unhelpful. Interestingly, one reason shoppers choose to walk into a store rather than shop online is because they seek human contact. Clearly, shoppers share a complicated relationship with store associates. We believe that making this relationship positive and collaborative will benefit retailers significantly and help them combat "showrooming."
Our study found that when faced with a problem (such as not being able to locate a product), shoppers instinctively turn to store associates first. We believe this expectation that store associates should resolve hiccups in the shopping experience can be used to strengthen shoppers' reliance on the associates. Equipping store associates with mobile technologies will allow them to help customers locate the right product, place orders for out–of–stock items and resolve other similar issues. Mobile technologies can also ensure that store associates are well–informed about products and thus able to meaningfully assist shoppers in making purchase decisions.
Our study also found that shoppers rate in–store personalization as more important than online personalization. Technology can help store associates identify loyal shoppers and deliver personalized service that reflects their status as loyal customers.