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Big Data will change the way salespeople interact with shoppers in the store. Eric Miltsch does a great job every morning of providing this community with a top-ten list of internet news items. Today he served up a particularly good article from the New York Times about the way data is now being captured in brick and mortar stores, like Nordstrom. As this technology goes down in price and up in value, dealers will be able to utilize it in stores as well.
We can learn a lot about our future from fight between big-box retailer and ecommerce sites. Most retailers have a split between online and in-store sales that is at least 80% to 20% one way or the other, and many of their shoppers are not combining the two prior to purchase. In our business, well over over 90% of the sales are made in the store and roughly 90% of all sales are to shoppers who use both the internet and the physical store before they buy.
We are never going to be the earlier adopters of retail methods for collecting data, in the store or online. However, we have an opportunity to tie the two together like no other retail industry. We still intercept out customers in the store with a human. So we can do more than hit them with an e-coupon at the right time, we can ask them the right question and match them to the right vehicle, financing, service contract, etc..
All this needs to be automated. And several vendors are working in that direction. The future for people inside the store is not so much about collecting data or analyzing it as utilizing the benefits of it in the conversations they already have with consumers. Knowing what questions will change the entire nature of the frontline salesperson in a way that is more successful and more enjoyable.