The Age of Webrooming: Brick and Mortar Relevance to Home Improvement Sales

by Travis Sawyers

All too often home improvement retailers don’t live up to the expectations of their customers. It’s a familiar scenario that every customer has experienced when shopping in retail stores. It happens because many home improvement associates simply aren’t trained well enough to feel comfortable providing assistance, while others aren’t correctly motivated or incentivized.

Picture it: You’ve made up your mind to take on a home improvement project. You’ve done some research online — you have an idea of the look you want, you’ve read reviews of the products you think you’ll need, and you’ve even compared prices. You see that the basic products you need are in stock at your local retailer and decide to drive over there to buy them, because you’re ready to get your project started today. Inspired, you look for an associate that can help you find the right products and confirm what you’ll need to do to make the project a success. After walking around for a minute, you finally find a sales associate that isn’t busy and ask for help. Unfortunately, the best they can do is to point you towards the aisle where similar products are located. Once you get there, another sales associate offers to help, but after you describe your vision, they admit they’ve never done that kind of project themselves and that they’ve only heard a few things about the products involved. They offer to Google it, but don’t find anything more than what you’ve already read. They call for a more experienced sales associate to come help, but are told everyone is busy. Eventually, you realize you’re wasting your time. So, you decide to go home and look up some tutorials on YouTube -and if it’s not too hard you’ll just order what you need online from the cheapest website. They’ll at least deliver it to your door.

What I’ve just described is the recent trend called webrooming -the act of researching online, buying offline (also known as “ROBO” or “reverse showrooming”). According to a Harris poll in the U.S., 69 percent of consumers webroom compared to 46 percent who showroom. In fact, a recent Google study found that 82 percent of shoppers say they consult their phones about a purchase they’re about to make in-store. That’s why having a highly trained sales staff contributes to the omnichannel retail experience.

According to a 2016 Mindtree study, shoppers who interact with a sales associate are 43 percent more likely to purchase a product, and their transactions have 81 percent more value, compared to those who don’t interact with an associate.

Other key findings included:

  • Shoppers who interact with a sales associate are 12 percent more likely to revisit the store.
  • Shoppers are less likely to make a purchase if they are not reached out to proactively by a sales associate.
  • Forty percent of shoppers are unable to locate a store associate when they need help during a typical shopping trip.

The research also found a direct correlation between levels of help and consumer purchases. Ninety-two percent of shoppers who said the service they received was “very helpful” made an in-store purchase and 97 percent wound us spending as much or more than they planned as a result. Sixty-eight percent of shoppers who did not find sales associates to be helpful did not make a purchase.

To remain relevant, retailers must take advantage of their foot traffic. Now more than ever, customers can and will take their business elsewhere. Assisting customers is much more than reading the detail on the box or a sign, or taking them to a website.  It’s about making them feel important and understood. Associates need to arm them with information and insight while providing them an enjoyable experience.

A sales team equipped to provide this level of support is a key differentiator in an all too competitive marketplace.  Information about products is online, yet customers still yearn for a consultative interaction with a sales associate. It provides a level of confidence an online review simply cannot do.  Successful sales is not simply racing to the bottom of the price war, it’s driving the customer experience to the top.

Keeping all that in mind, here are five tips to improve training for home improvement sales associates:

  1. Recruit people who genuinely like working with other people.
  2. Provide efficient technology tools, real-world sales training, and product knowledge.
  3. Incentivize them with sales contests and commissions to motivate winning behaviors.
  4. Pay employees well to keep them happy and reduce turnover.
  5. Create a work hard, play hard atmosphere that leads to a great customer experience.

Don’t have the time or resources to train your sales associates? Need additional quality sales associates to be placed in store? MarketSource’s proven training and field marketing talent sourcing can help. Contact us today!

Topic: Retail

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Travis Sawyers, director of new business development, is a 15 year veteran in the big box retail space with experience in multiple categories including tools, hardware, bathing and seasonal product lines. Travis writes about innovations in products and field marketing strategies that make management of the outdoor world easier and faster for residential consumers and landscapers alike.

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