Great article for discussion. I have been crafting an ideal solution to execute this very issue while still retaining the brands DNA. The Art of Retailing has yet to be beautifully translated online. I love that we are talking about this!
I have been on the floor, managed the store, trained the associates and managed the entire brand. The connection the consumer has with the brand and product is the only action that generates a sale. The person in charge of that is not an entry level position.
Jasmine brings up a good point. Stores are not only understaffed by count but the talent is below the standard of excellence once considered the backbone of the luxury retail experience. Relationship selling has taken a back seat in today's retail environment. providing an in-store agent is a great idea online -- in concept. However, to Sterling's point, executing a premium experience for both online and in-store customers becomes compromised when the technology tools, process and talent are not capable of delivering such an experience.
Often I do "tests" shopping online with chat. I have experienced long wait times, unavailable messages and even been told "I am a customer, give me your email?" I waited 45 minutes on HugoBoss.com for someone to tell me "I am not allowed to make suggestions." Receiving two images, two days later with wonky images and no reason to engage. I have been given a link to 432 boots even though I was asking about brown flat riding boots.
As a founder of a technology solution attempting to solve this crucial element missing when shopping online, I love hearing Tom say "it's a no brainer." What is the value of bringing back the level of service with technology tools capable of delivering a personal, consistent and seamless online shopping experience that builds brand value?
To Chris's point and Joe Milano, SVP of Saks.com statement: “Priority is always to the customer in front of you.” Surplus staff is not paid premium dollar, so is that the talent we want to scale? It takes a different type of talent with a different career objective and an unmatched passion for helping customers with product with proven experience engaging long-term customers. I agree with Mark, you can't rob Peter to pay Paul and neither want to be paid in loose change.
Steve mentioned the golden lining to all of this working. If you work on a luxury retail floor you are paid a monthly draw vs. net commission. If you don't exceed your draw you go into areas. It is detrimental to work the floor and your book to keep food on the table. Who cab rightfully hold in-store associates accountable when their online sales when the compensation is not aligned?
The entire foundation and relationship between brick's and click's needs to be completely re-architected to serve the entire industry an executable solution the is seamless for customers that provides a meaningful engagement. I think I am on to something, but it will take us all to hold ourselves to higher standards. Conversations like this are beautiful and will be how we get there ... together!
We have all had negative and positive experience online, in chat chat and in-store. Don't stop, keep trying to engage as a consumer, as an experienced industry consumer because not so long down the road a solution will come to market and you'll have to click the button to experience it.