Skip to main content

Are Sales Associates Still Relevant in Retail?

Online sales accounted for more than a third (36.2%) of total retail sales growth in 2015, according to data from the U.S. Commerce Department. So with less people spending offline, and e-commerce ever on the rise, are sales associates going the way of the dodo? Not according to Mobee CEO Hal Charnley.

“Sales associates are, arguably, the most strategic competitive advantage a retailer has,” Charnley said. “When properly trained, an associate can instantly enhance the shopper’s experience and vastly increase the odds of repeat visits.”

Boston-based Mobee, which provides brands and retailers with crowdsourced in-store insights collected from a diverse range of consumers (or “Bees”), aims to help organizations make smarter business decisions. The platform drills down into data and offers actionable, operational acumens so teams can understand what’s happening within a specific region, channel or date range, as well as areas that need improvement.

“The store is the ‘last mile’ in the supply chain, yet it tends to be where the most inaccuracies are found. Shelves with broken or missing products, returns, open box items, messy inventory and delays in point-of-sale data all contribute to poor asset management,” Charnley said. “Systematic collection of shelf health-related data can reveal opportunities for supply chain improvement, to potentially reduce write downs and duplicate orders, and improve sell-through. Shoppers are already on their smartphones, and are usually the first to notice when inventory is missing or inaccurate. So why not have them report it for you?”

As an incentive to encourage people to login to the Mobee app while shopping, consumers can earn rewards for the data they collect. But that’s not all smartphones are good for in stores. Arming sales associates with one can empower them with the same quick access to price, feature, availability and comparison data that shoppers have at their fingertips.

Related Stories

“Those sales associates who engage with shoppers by asking questions about purchase considerations can more effectively guide their purchase decisions in store,” Charnley said.

Mobee has evolved a lot since its founding in 2011. Earlier this summer, the start-up hired two sales directors—Kevin Larke, previously of ShopperTrak, and former Rakuten senior sales manager Anthony Madrigal—and moved into a 7,000-square-foot space in downtown Boston. It’s also poised to expand its staff by more than 50 percent this year as part of an aggressive growth plan that includes faster maps, more intuitive searching and more choices for point redemption. On top of that, Mobee is investing heavily in its backend engine to provide its clients with even greater control over how they consume or integrate the data.

Added Charnley, “No retailer or brand manufacturer needs yet another data stream. Our product and process was built for integration and insights, so we are more often a part of our client’s business performance indicators, like store operations or marketing effectiveness measurements.”