It’s a tradition for the team at Graff.  Year after year, we don’t miss it.  You will always find us at the Retail Council of Canada annual STORE Conference and last week’s biggest event in Retail was likely our best ever!  With Kevin taking his place on the main stage as the master of ceremonies and our newly designed, slick booth out on the trade show floor, STORE did not disappoint.  Having supported STORE for the last decade, what made this year a stand out?  I would have to say it was the technology…and for those of you who know me, you know it takes a lot for me to give the nod to tech, so let me explain. 

We had the pleasure of partnering in our booth with a brilliant team from Endo Networks.  The blend of our sales and management training solutions (with a very human touch) and a technology solution that encourages, drives and measures human engagement (that comes from training efforts) proved to be the perfect marriage.  I saw it with my own eyes.  Technology made us all behave more humanly!  With Endo’s self-serve tablets lining the lease line of our booth, we had more meaningful, qualified conversations with STORE attendees than ever before. 

You’d like to think that we are evolved enough to not shy away from a little human interaction, be it in a trade show setting or retail store setting.  But isn’t that the very thing we all struggle with?  One of the first things we train frontline teams on is how to establish rapport.  How to break the ice and find common ground.  How to be a real person and not a sales person.  It’s hard to get people engaged in anything these days.  You have to break down the defensive walls; break through all the noise.  Technology has proven to be a great tool to do that very thing…and I saw it with my own eyes in our booth at STORE just last week…plus, thanks to the clever tracking in behind Endo’s self-serve tablets, we have the reporting results to confirm it!  People wandered over to the tablet terminals, engaged in our little survey, laughed and had some fun with it and then lingered for some fantastic conversations.  My main take-away?  Technology provided a comfort that allowed us all to be a little more human than our typical behaviours without it. 

Now, factor that thinking into an in-store retail experience and you can see why bricks and mortar retailers are in hot pursuit of the latest and the greatest from the tech world.  It’s the ability to have that effective human interaction that will keep them alive, so if the answer to that is introducing more technology, we better get on board with that!  I think the message here is retailers that embrace technology to improve the customer experience and improve the training and development of their staff will be the ones who prevail. 

Mary Gordon and Kim McCutcheon have been supporting retail front lines for as long as they can remember. A dynamic duo, Mary and Kim understand what it takes to make training work at store level and know how to inspire, coach and support retail teams in all of their training endeavours.

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