Just How Important is Human Touch in the Shopping Journey

A new survey released by Mindtree challenges the idea that most shoppers do not like to be disturbed by sales associates, and highlights the power of human touch to boost sales (view the full infographic here).

With the growing importance of eCommerce, it’s easy to lose sight of the one thing every sale has in common: people. And people really do like to buy from other people. Not long ago, brick and mortar retailers were casting glances over their shoulders, worried about what the rise of online shopping would mean for their sales. It turns out some of those fears were unfounded as the majority of shoppers still prefer to do their shopping in the store.

Read on to learn more about how the human touch helps to turn shoppers into customers.

The Human Touch Matters to Shoppers

Personal interaction is one of the most effective ways to encourage a shopper to become a customer. One needs to look no further than the results of Mindtree’s 2016 shopper survey for confirmation. The study found that:

  • 70% of shoppers want to interact with sales associates;
  • 34% of customers sourced information from sales associates, and 28% asked associates about offers and discounts;
  • Sales associates are a close second to websites and online reviews as sources of customer information;
  • 40% of shoppers decide to make a purchase following a positive interaction with a sales associate, versus 28% who make a purchase without any interaction.

When it comes to making a purchase decision in the store, the value of personal interaction with a member of your team is undeniable. However, the same study observed that 40% of shoppers say they are “never able to find a sales associate” when they want assistance. Clearly, there is some room for improvement when it comes to meeting shoppers’ expectations!

What Does this Mean to Retailers?

In-store sales and human touch boost the bottom line for a few reasons:

  1. Cross-sell and upselling: A sophisticated algorithm can make recommendations based on what’s in an online shopper’s cart, but it can’t make judgments based on what the customer is wearing, or register their look of delight or disgust at suggested items. An in-person connection with a sales associate lends itself to unparalleled upsell and cross-selling opportunities.
  2. Increased sales, decreased returns: Customers who have had the chance to touch and try on merchandise are more confident in their choices. As an example, let’s look at apparel shoppers. When they’ve interacted with a sales associate in the fitting room, shoppers are three times as likely to buy products from that store, and their return rates are dramatically lower.
  3. Associates can do their job even better when supported by technology: When sales associates are empowered to do their job with helpful technology, the benefits of in-person interaction can be significantly enhanced. For example, fitting room call buttons allow sales associates help customers in the fitting room on the customers’ schedule – without disruptive and ineffective door-knocking.

As it turns out, there really is no substitute for the hands-on nature of personal service. This is an area where traditional retail stores continue to maintain an edge over eCommerce.

The Human Touch Contributes to Retail Success

The majority of shoppers want to interact with associates, and shoppers who have this interaction are far more likely to make a purchase. Smart retailers will do all they can to ensure that when a shopper visits their store, that individual experiences a positive human connection.