Luxury retail is becoming more creative, more experiential, more theatrical and more fun with every new queue that is created outside a store. As tech starts to take over various elements of admin, humans are left to be the most empathetic versions of themselves. When trained properly, the human role within a store enables a hyper-personalised experience for each customer that walks in. Those once seen as ‘temporary staff’ become actors, in a retail theatre, playing the very best versions of themselves on behalf of your brand.
Fenty Beauty’s launch at Harvey Nichols in London saw queues that wrapped around the store, a queue that could still be seen for around a year. This kind of brand hype is becoming the new norm as brands align with greater purpose and existing personalities. This particular concession was one of the first to engage with customers and employees alike to express personal style, show tattoos and express their own individualism. This was completely consistent with the brand messaging that Rihanna had set out to create; beauty where “women everywhere could be included”. Our temps were able to provide a service beyond selling, that told a story and nurtured their own values.
For the consumer, the online and offline experience has become seamless. Companies can connect with a human in so many ways without ever meeting them in real life whether it be via DM on Instagram, a chatbot on your website, or through an email conversation. Their first face-to-face interaction with a person that is representing your brand will often be in store. This interaction should be seen as a part of your branding, it must be as consistent as your imagery, your online experience and your store design. Every aspect of human interaction matters, from their personal presentation to their knowledge of the product, to their understanding of your company values. Retail consultants, whether temporary or full-time, have the power to continue, interpret or disrupt the brand story. It is the companies that place their values at the forefront of their brand presence, that are ready to enable a genuine connection with their consumers.
While online channels and social media have impacted purchasing decisions, consumers are still choosing to buy their beauty products in store (80.7% of beauty sales in 2017, Euromonitor). This is where customer service is key. Walking into a store, and meeting an actual human-being provides an opportunity to exceed each customers expectation. When given the courtesy of training, and an understanding of their impact on each brand, they are empowered to take their brand experience outside of the store walls.
Employees may be more likely to boast about a brand or post about a brand than the customers, buyers are being seen as influencers, these are the people with professional exposure to products. Liberty is a great example of this: the store’s beauty buyers have created their own Instagram account through which to explore their favourite new products. The account, @libertybeautyteam now has nearly 50k followers, and successfully demonstrates their excitement and expertise within the beauty industry. Encouraging brand love from employees up, and with equally engaged humans on the shop floor, brands can boost their credibility and make for an authentic store experience. For this reason, a temp must no longer be seen as a temp, they must be seen as an ambassador.
In a world where people crave community, experience, and understanding, it is no longer an option to try to sell the customer a product you would like them to buy. We must train staff to listen, empathise, and connect with the customer to invest in their long term relationship with your brand.