Serving “Leave Me Alone” Shoppers

Are sales associates an asset or a liability?

As a shopper who puts a high premium on efficiency, I love sending sales associates scurrying to do my bidding. Dig through those racks. Find it in red. Track down a matching skirt.

But for others, the sales associate is the deal breaker. Plenty of people shop online to avoid unwanted human interaction. This is one explanation for why beauty and personal care products have become a top category for e-commerce. Women know what kind of moisturizer they want, and they don’t want to discuss it ad nauseam with a sales associate.

Advice When You Want It

There are, of course, times when even the leave-me-alone types enter a retail store in search of expert advice. That’s led several beauty brands to experiment with an “open sell environment.”

Clinique, for example, has re-trained its pushy sales associates to back off and only approach customers whose body language indicates they’re browsing. It has installed tablets and opened “Experience Bars” where shoppers can try out products without interacting with sales associates.

This “Service As You Like It” model has lured in new customers, according to the company.

“We were forcing a different type of relationship and any relationship that is forced is a bad thing,” Clinique’s Ricardo Quintero told the Wall Street Journal. “Consumers wanted the freedom to have knowledge and service on demand.”

You can read more about open sell environments in the beauty world

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