Nov 28, 2017 Gina Ashe, CEO

Holiday Shoppers – Smarter Than Ever? What Brands, Retailers Need to Know

The holidays are upon us, and that means a flood of foot traffic to brick and mortar retail stores. But is your brand ready to take advantage of the opportunity?

Despite the hype around Cyber Monday, Pricewaterhouse Coopers estimates that almost 90 percent of consumers plan to shop in stores this holiday season. And shoppers are better informed than ever before when they hit the store. The National Retail Federation found that over half of shoppers actually begin researching the gifts that they want to buy in October or earlier – that means stores are contending with a highly educated group of purchasers.  

Most importantly, these shoppers are looking for a “payoff” for all of that research when they enter the store, and the brands’ ambassadors and retail associates that consumers engage with hold the keys.

Many stores scale up their staffing with temporary seasonal staffing during this period, which is a traditional solution. These days, just having more bodies on the store floor no longer cuts it. These stores will come up short on ThirdChannel’s “people needs” index, which reveals that today’s customers are rating their shopping experience, giving higher scores when associates on the floor:

  • Demonstrate product knowledge
  • Experience the product for themselves
  • Show passion and enthusiasm
  • Engage customers proactively and strategically

The Role of Floor Associates in Shaping a Great In-Store Experience

There’s a science behind what makes a great retail environment for today’s consumers. Here at ThirdChannel, we evaluate the shopping environment in stores across key “people” and “product” dimensions in our People vs Product Score Index. Our system generates a Store Optimization Score™ with recommended action plans in real time to fix retail execution issues.

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Stores deliver on the People Needs dimension - and, ultimately, sales -  when consumers experience combines high brand enthusiasm and unparalleled knowledge with proactive customer engagement. For example, one global eyewear brand saw a 39% lift in sales when associates rated as being “enthusiastic.” Even the best products will struggle to cut through the noise of today’s retail environment without the support of a truly engaged in-store team that understands and feels passionate about its value to shoppers. 

The proof of this approach is in the (holiday) pudding. That same global eyewear brand engaged the store associates at their key retailers to build more engaged, passionate ambassadors for the brand’s products on the retail floor. The results were undeniable. Over the holiday season, the eyewear brand saw a 43% uptick in customer engagement when they focused on educating the team on the shop floor about their brand’s key attributes, getting them excited to recommend them to shoppers.

Associate education also makes a huge difference – one leading footwear brand saw a 39% boost in sales after dedicate brand ambassadors held trained more than two store associates on product features.

But, what did it take to get them there? Download our guide to learn more and discover the four central ways engaged, knowledgeable store associates can drive higher retail sales.


Published by Gina Ashe, CEO November 28, 2017
Gina Ashe, CEO