To Survive e-Commerce, Modern Retailers Must Learn to Think Like e-Commerce
Nov15 2020 Greg Osborne General Counsel, Director of Partnerships and Operations at MarketDial Retail is currently going through a seismic shift. To progress, retailers must learn to think like e-commerce, by gathering detailed data, experimenting with that data and iterating, creating a cycle of continuous learning feedback. 1927 World Chess Championship - To survive Capablanca […]

Greg Osbourne
Greg Osborne
General Counsel, Director of Partnerships and Operations at MarketDial

Retail is currently going through a seismic shift. To progress, retailers must learn to think like e-commerce, by gathering detailed data, experimenting with that data and iterating, creating a cycle of continuous learning feedback.

1927 World Chess Championship - To survive Capablanca you have to think like Capablanca

In Buenos Aires in 1927, underdog chess player Alexander Alekhine dominated the "unbeatable" world champion Jose Capablanca. In doing so, Alekhine taught a valuable lesson that retailers should heed today.

Capablanca, child prodigy and genius, became the world chess champion at 33, spending nearly a decade without losing a match. Using a defensive and technical style, Capablanca has successfully defended his title dozens of times, including multiple challenges by young Russian Alexander Alekhine.

Alekhine gained notoriety throughout the 1920s by playing with unorthodox tactics and a lively, aggressive style. But Alekhine's style did not give way until he was put to the test against Capablanca - until the 1927 World Championships.


In the world championship game in Argentina, Alekhine took a different approach. He knew Capablanca had to do something right and that he had to learn from him. Before the match, Alekhine studied Capablanca's style, memorizing every published game Capablanca had played before. he learned to think like Capablanca. Therefore, Alekhine adopted Capablanca's style for the match, restraining his wild imagination and playing with structured defense. To the world's surprise, Alekhine upset Capablanca and became the new world champion.

Modern retailers should Learn to think like e-commerce

Retail is currently going through a seismic shift. This change began even before COVID-19 and has only accelerated. But the change presents an opportunity for savvy retailers - those who innovate will gain market share and secure their future; those who will not perish. To move forward, like Alekhine, modern retailers would have to learn to think like e-commerce. For starters, modern retailers should embrace the e-commerce style by (1) gathering detailed data, (2) experimenting with that data, and (3) iterating, creating a cycle of continuous learning feedback.

Think Like Ecommerce: Collect Data!

It's no secret that e-commerce is light years ahead of traditional retail when it comes to analytics. e-Commerce monitors and measures every mouse movement, click, and repeat purchase and collects feedback from its consumers. With this data, ecommerce learns traffic flow, fallout, heatmaps, and Net Promotor scores.

In the brick and mortar world, similar data is available, but unlike e-commerce, many retailers just fail to put it together. Take the example of traffic metrics (of course, we're biased): Ecommerce doesn't just count the number of users who visit a site. Instead, ecommerce requires knowing if a visitor has been to the site before, how long the user has been, where the user has been on the site, and how fast the user has entered. on the site. Although perhaps a little more complex, there is a brick and mortar analogue for these advanced metrix. Modern retailers have sophisticated cameras and software that add texture to store traffic, mine data from Wi-Fi enabled smartphones, use sophisticated hardware that recognizes faces and can exclude store staff from measurements, and illustrate heat maps and store traffic flows.

And traffic is just one example. Next-gen retailers - those who will thrive in the modern retail environment - will combine traffic, point of sale, third party demographics, customer loyalty, and other forms of data to create winning strategies .

Think like e-commerce: use data and experience!

Almost every time you log in, you are part of an experience. From optimizing the placement of a "Buy Now" button to determining the most appealing color for a title, e-commerce does nothing without first performing an A / B test - a test in which the online retailer exposes one version of its website to some users and a different version to others, then compares the results. With this data, businesses can know exactly which prices, designs, colors, and sales are producing the most profitable results.

Although the online world is constantly experienced and iterated, modern retailers are lagging behind. Fortunately, performing brick-and-mortar A / B testing is not only possible, but it gives incredible results. With modern software, you can test everything accurately and easily, from products to prices, from commodities to management and presentations to losses. But retailers should beware, an inaccurate test will only give inaccurate results. Imagine testing a minor price increase in places that promote higher income. Although the test may indicate a positive rise, you may be surprised with losses when you implement the price increase on all sites. Fortunately, like software solutions for online A / B testing, the offline world now has sophisticated and precise solutions.

Think like e-commerce: implement and start over!

There is a scene in Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark, where Indiana goes through a bizarre Middle East fighting the “bad guys”. At one point, Indiana stops and looks behind him just as a large crowd separates, revealing a huge man with a giant sword. The man begins to spin his sword, dazzling the crowd and showing off his ninja skills. Just as the oohs and ahhs hit a fever pitch, Indiana casually draws her gun and shoots the man in the chest. Game over.

Like Indiana with the swordsman, e-commerce and smart retailers are killing off competition with new technology. And these retailers are not just collecting data and experimenting, but they are constantly repeating the process, creating a continuous learning loop that changes their business.

That's the point: you can test. You can collect data. But it's like owning a gun and not using it when threatened by a sword. To connect your data and your experimentation, retailers need to collect data, experiment, implement, and repeat in the blink of an eye. While a single initiative can only generate a marginal increase in revenue, if you can create a continuous learning loop by experimenting, implementing, and repeating the process, you can stack multiple marginal gains on top of each other. others, creating sufficient gains to change the course. of your business and destroy the competition.

To learn more about A / B testing and experimentation in retail, visit To learn more about in-store data collection, visit


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Are you a retailer ( or retail sales associate ) who’s struggling with how to approach shoppers ? Worried that you lack the magic touch, or that you’ll come off as an annoying salesperson ? Would you rather be awkwardly staring at your store’s point of sale software screen than actually talking to the customer in front of you ?

You should keep reading because, after years of being one of the strongest sellers at my store, I can assure you : anyone can sell. That’s not to say it’s not going to take a lot of practice. But over the years, I’ve found that a customer will tell you verbally and/or physically how to sell to them. If you’re listening properly and looking for the right cues, you can always tell if a customer is interested in what you have to say, what approach to take with them, and what exactly they’re looking for.

Check out the tips below, put them into action, and you should find yourself successfully closing sales : Practice Active ListeningActive listening isn’t just about standing in front a customer silently. There are a few important things you should be doing to engage in this practice :

The most important part of réactive listening is to not form a response while the customer is speaking. This is really hard to do, and is going to take a lot of practice. It’s very natural to latch on to one part of a comment and form a response to it, and then shut out the rest of the comment. tera become a good listener, a sales person must resist doing this. Active listening should engage your whole body. Things like nodding and having an open stance show the customer that you are listening to what they have to say. Once it’s time for you to speak, give the customer a quick summary of what they said. This has a few purposes. First, it allows you to come up with a response post-comment without things being awkwardly silent. Second, showing the customer that you heard everything they had to say will often open them up to providing you with more information than they initially supplied.

Practicing réactive listening means that you are fully engaged with learning what the customer wants. This engagement makes a huge difference. Not only will you understand what the customer wants in a deeper way, but you also gain their trust easier.

Next : Pay Attention to Body LanguageAlong with réactive listening, you should be practicing ‘active looking. ’ ( Yes, I just made that term up. ) People will betray a lot of what they’re thinking in the things that they do with their body. A lot of body language experts will tell you some odd things to look for, like watching if someone scratches their nose, but I don’t think that level of depth is necessary. In fact, I think that if you’re watching for a customer to scratch their nose, you’re probably not practicing active listening.

However, there is still plenty of body language you should be paying attention to while you’re actively listening. Let me give you a short list of tells you can easily pick up on during a conversation with a customer. 1. Eye ContactWhere a person’s eyes are looking is one of the easiest ways to tell what they’re focusing on. If the customer is looking at you, or the products you’re working with, that’s a good sign. It means they’re engaged with you and are interested in what you have to say and sell.

If they’re looking around, at someone else, out the door… anywhere that’s not where you are – that’s not a great sign. Usually if this is the case you should say something like, “Let me know if you need anything else, ” and let them do their own thing. No eye contact doesn’t mean you won’t be able to close the sale – but it could spell trouble if you don’t pay attention.

Hands/ArmsAnother important thing to pay attention to is what people do with their hands and arms. Typically, if someone’s arms are crossed, they are uncomfortable and probably not interested in what you have to say. You should tread gently : let this customer know you are there to help. If you’re talking with a customer who is clearly shy and uncomfortable with talking to you, I recommend acting in a more reserved manner and avoiding things like answering questions the customer has yet to ask. In addition, because this posture reflects a closed off mind, I mostly suggest avoiding suggestive selling. Suggestive selling does not work well on someone who is not interested.

Open arms and palms facing towards you, however, are an extra sign. If your customer has taken this sort of posture in your conversation, you’re doing well. In fact, I would definitely recommend going for it with suggestive selling. ( Of course, make sure you’re showing them items that are actually related to what they want, not just some pre-placed item that your manager wants to get rid of. )

Facial Expression—Particularly the Curve of Their MouthLastly, you should be paying attention to the locutions you customer is making. This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s important to pay close attention to your customer’s facial expressions. Even if a customer is pulling a straight face at you, most people’s mouths are fairly expressive in small ways. Often, the corners of the mouth will be curving slightly up or slightly down. Down is not good for you – it indicates frustration or annoyance. Curving up, though, is an extra sign. Additionally, you should pay attention to how tightly the lips are held. If they’re pressed tightly together, it can mean the same thing as crossed arms.

That’s the three major areas of body language you should be paying attention to while actively listening to your customer. Keep in mind that while the customer’s body can give you an indication about how they feel towards you and your product, it’s the listening that is going to yield you the important information about what they want. Now that we’ve established good customer reading techniques, let’s talk about what to do with the information you pick up :

Respond With Similar Body LanguageOne of the easiest ways to set someone at ease is to “mirror” their body language. You don’t want to go overboard on this – that can seem creepy or just mean. But little things are really important. Start with pace and timing. Is the customer in a hurry ? Or do they want to take things slow and steady ? Speak and act at the same pace as the customer. If she’s in a hurry, speaking quickly and speed walking across the store, then you should speak quickly and speed walk across the store as well. If she’s speaking slowly and moves slowly, your speed talking and walking will only come across as aggressive to her.

In addition, you can do subtle things like adopt a similar posture, or use similar hand gestures. With the hand gestures, be careful. You don’t want to come across as mocking your customer. Don’t make exact replicas of hand gestures, keep it general. Determine if someone is ready to buy ( or not ) based on non-verbal cuesHere are a few more tips to help you differentiate shoppers who are ready to buy versus those who aren’t interested.

According to SCORE contributor Lee Perlitz, signals that shoppers are interested in a product include : Spending time looking at or discussing one product type – When a customer spends time focusing on just one product, there’s a good chance they’ve already set their sights on that one and are interested in purchasing it. Looking around for somebody to help them – Catch the shopper’s gaze when you see them looking around. According to Perlitz, you can approach them “if they sustain the glance or raise their eyebrows. ”Body language – A shift in body language signals “a change in esprit state that may well indicate readiness to buy. ” For example, if the shopper suddenly styles relaxed after you’ve answered their questions, that could be an indication that they’re ready to buy.

Be sure to approach customers once you see them exhibiting these signals. Failing to spot these signs or not acting in time could result in you missing out on the sale. On the flip side, here are the non-verbal signals indicating that someone isn’t ready to buy. Avoiding eye contact – If a customer doesn’t hold your gaze when you look at them, it likely means they’re not ready to make a purchase yet. Making ‘not now’ excuses – Statements like “just looking” or “not now” are clear signals that they aren’t ready to buy. Perlitz recommends that retailers “make an encouraging remark to keep them looking and back off. ”Looking at many different products – Not being focused on just one product is another indication that shoppers should be given space.

When you see or hear people exhibiting the signals above, then it’s best to hold off on the sell. Figure out the type of customer that you’re dealing with and respond accordinglyAs you know, there are several variétés of customers who walk through your doors, and you need to tailor your approach accordingly. tera help you do that, we’ve put together a quick slideshow summarizing the most common types of customers in retail. Check it out below :

More tips ? Those are our tips and tricks to help anyone become a good sales person. It’s important to remember that truly good sales people work on creating trusting relationships with their clients before they sell them anything. If you are capable of creating a trusting relationship, you are capable of selling. These tips are intended to help you create that relationship.

What tricks to reading customers do you employ ? Let us know in the comments below ! Author Bio : Cara Wood is a digital administrative assistant at Capterra, a company that puts business software buyers in touch with business software vendors ! When she’s not hard at work at Capterra, she can be found horse-back riding, reading and just generally having a good time at life.


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