Back in June at IRCE in Chicago, Salesfloor CEO Oscar Sachs teamed up with Joe Milano, senior vice president, digital retail at Saks to talk about how the retailer was using Salesfloor’s Storefront to help customers shop directly with their favored store associates, including through a live online chat feature.
Salesfloor's new messaging feature plays a similar role as online chat, but using SMS, which just about every mobile phone owner uses to some extent, and by integrating with major messaging platforms, Salesfloor could help its retailers support many more customers on a communications platform they likely use every day. And those connections could potentially occur much more often than website chat features.
According to Statista, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp both had about 1 billion users at the beginning of this year, while WeChat had around 846 million. At this stage of the game, it might make more sense for retailers to connect with customers on these platforms as it does for them to connect by phone or e-mail. It's true that e-mail has proven a pretty effective way to connect with customers, perhaps the most effective marketing path, but a study released just this week by ReturnPath suggested that one-fifth of commercial e-mails get diverted from inboxes.
Plus, e-mail is simply not as dynamic as real-time messaging, which can enable conversations relatively close to the type that store associates and customers might have if they were both standing in the middle of a store.
The ultimate aim with this kind of offering is to create a true omnichannel shopping experience for consumers. But these features are also built on a rather quaint and traditional notion about retail — that making direct connections with customers, and allowing customers to build friendly relationships with specific store associates, will improve a retailer’s bottom line while keeping customers coming back.