“We need more customer engagement and more practical support for sales staff in stores. That’s why we need digitalization at the POS.” What Jan Kegelberg means by that in his lecture at the ISPO Digitize Summit isn’t something like outfitting the POS with digital gimmicks, quite the opposite actually: At SportScheck digital tools help with the sales talk between customers and sales personnel.
The idea is plausible: With a tablet in hand, the sales staff in stores get real-time access to stocks in the building, in the warehouse, and in other stores, to detailed product information, customer data, and many other services. The sales employee no longer needs to disappear into storage to look for products, leaving customers alone. He doesn’t have to send them to a permanently installed terminal. He doesn’t have to let them go unsatisfied because the size they want isn’t available in the store.
He can devote his attention entirely to the customer and their wishes.
This measure generated additional sales of ten million euros at the SportScheck branches last year. “The customer buys more because, firstly, they feel like they’ve gotten good advice, and secondly because we can still sell them products that aren’t in stock in the store,” reads Kegelberg’s conclusion.
The retailer was even able to generate more customer data through the tablets: New loyalty cards can be created much faster with the tablets and in a personal conversation. Since the change management measures, roughly 130,000 new loyalty cards have been created and 90,000 customer records have been updated.
But for how obvious it sounds, the implementation was just as difficult. At SportScheck, the introduction of iPads on the floor is just the visible part of a comprehensive digitalization strategy for the entire infrastructure the company has already been working on for several years. And as is often the case, not everything works right away.
The first investments in digitally outfitting stationary businesses with kiosk terminals and webshop tablets for customers and sales personnel took place back in 2011. But back then instead of enthusiasm, SportScheck reaped disinterest.
Kegelberg: “It quickly became clear that the webshop solution was not suited for the sales staff or for the customers. The seller lacked important functions and it was cumbersome. To the customer, the signal was: ‘Thanks for coming – but now see how you manage. And: Actually, you could have stayed and done the order on the sofa at home. That was the wrong psychological message, of course!”
That is why SportScheck invested in the development of its own in-store app, which was implemented by CaperWhite . It’s been used in stores since 2015.
But just programming a good app isn’t enough on its own. You also have to find ways to make its benefits palatable to the sales staff. Kegelberg: “We brought the tablets onto the floor and waited to see what happened: Nothing happened.”
Classic training courses didn’t bring the expected success, either. In order to achieve a change in working methods and build up new skills, targeted investments had to be made in change management processes and incentives had to be created for the staff.
For example, sales via the in-store app also have to go to the seller’s account, not to the web shop. “Otherwise the salesperson will have little interest in selling via the app,” says Kegelberg. Fun ideas like a sales battle between the branches have also proved their worth.
About 150 times a day, sales employees scan product barcodes to retrieve content. Approximately 300 orders are generated per day via the in-store app, “with only half as high return rates as in the online shop,” says the digital exec.
In the hands of the sales staff, the in-store app has become a powerful tool. That’s why they are now ready to take the next steps. More and more services are being added to the app: from ski rental in the holiday regions to booking yoga courses at affiliated studios, to the payment function. SportScheck aims to introduce that feature this year, and is already building service stations in the shops where shopping bags and receipts can be collected.
The introduction of the in-store app was lengthy and also “painful,” Jan Kegelberg says, but strategically necessary. “Even if we haven’t developed a complete picture of what we can still do with the app and which services we can still integrate, we have created the conditions for the future.” In the long term, this service will make it possible to sell more products and a new type of product range, without having to increase actual store space.