Engaging Customers Beyond the Store Walls

In an insightful discussion during a recent webinar on improving store associate customer experience, Lina Subic, Director of Store Operations at PacSun, made a strong case for modern stores engaging with and selling to customers beyond the store walls. In the case of PacSun, a lifestyle apparel retailer, selling through live streaming and pop-up stores at events has created new sales opportunities for the retailer. Subic explained that PacSun focuses on finding new channels to promote and sell the company's products by engaging with shoppers where they spend most of their time. In the webinar, she told the story of how PacSun quickly sold out of a pair of jeans at all of their stores that were promoted through a live-streaming event. But she cautioned the webinar audience on the complexities new avenues to a sale add to an already complicated role and set of tasks for today's store associates.

"We can't just take our traditional POS system and put it into a nightclub or a race," said Subic, emphasizing that retailers must equip their store associates with the right tools to engage and sell to customers beyond the store walls. Successfully engaging customers remotely, according to Subic, relies on the company having in place store technology that is able to adapt to new store environments, like a pop-up store at a concert, and support store associates with capabilities to engage customers with a high level of service. Vital to achieving this approach is remote selling capabilities that mimic traditional store capabilities but do so in a way optimized for non-traditional store environments.

Modern Retailers Have Yet to Embrace Remote Selling

Store technology limitations may be why many modern stores have yet to embrace remote selling and other strategies for engaging customers outside the store. A survey of 150 retail executives in the US and Canada performed in March 2024 by consumer industry insights firm Incisiv and sponsored by Manhattan Associates indicated low adoption of store capabilities to enable remote selling and engagement by today's retailers. The survey revealed that only 38% of surveyed retailers have adopted comprehensive mobile POS systems enabling transactions anywhere in the store or outside. Further, the survey showed that even a smaller amount of retailers have adopted advanced engagement tools, like virtual selling, to sell to customers remotely. The survey results identified that only 21% of retailers have adopted capabilities for offering virtual shopping appointments through video calls, allowing associates to guide and sell remotely. You can read more about the insights gathered from this unique research on the store associate experience by reading the "Unified Excellence: Transforming the Store Associate Experience" playbook.

Where To Start in Engaging Customers Beyond the Store Walls

Harkening back to the PacSun discussion earlier, the context of pop-up stores and live-streaming events is an excellent place to start discussing how modern stores can employ technology to engage customers beyond the store walls. With pop-up stores, a traditional retail store has the opportunity to go to customers to engage them and generate sales. Local gatherings like sporting events, concerts, farmers' markets, and more allow retailers to execute highly targeted marketing and specialized selling to capture customer attention and sales.

A modern point-of-sale system can enable a rich, personalized customer experience at pop-up events. Using cloud-native and mobile technology, a modern point-of-sale system allows a store to bring its rich store functionality to a pop-up store environment without the hassles of complicated information technology infrastructure. A store could then use its store associates, already familiar with the store's point-of-sale capabilities, to provide an exceptional experience at the pop-up store that mimics the traditional store. Customers will be undoubtedly delighted, if not amazed, by the consistently excellent service the brand provides anywhere the customer shops.

Virtual selling provides another avenue for stores to market to and engage their loyal customers.  For example, a store may hold an exclusive event promoting a new collection not yet available in other sales channels. Customers who cannot attend in person can participate through virtual streaming. However, how does the store complete a sale with those attending virtually? Asking the virtual attendee to come into the store or wait until the new collection is available online has the pitfall of losing the excitement of the moment – and the sale.

Modern point-of-sale systems allow the stores to seamlessly engage with the customer remotely to complete a sale with a virtual attendee. These systems integrate and unify various communication channels into a user-friendly interface, enabling associates to easily speak, email, chat, or text (SMS) with customers while accessing the customer account and viewing and editing orders. Further, modern point-of-sale systems provide next-generation payment methods like pay-by-link, which allows customers to complete sale transactions remotely. Using a secure payment link generated by a store associate through email or text, the customer is directed to a secure page to finalize payment and the order for pickup or delivery. 

These examples represent some of the many ways modern stores can use technology to empower store associates and expand and enhance their customer engagement. Modern retail stores are a crucible of omnichannel commerce, finding new ways to engage and delight customers to create new revenue streams. You can learn more about modern point-of-sale capabilities here.