Back Office: Cyber Sellers
There was a time salespeople sold with a story and a smile. That was all they needed. People skills never go out of style. But if you walk into a Circuit City these days you might notice some of the floor staff armed with handheld devices, most notably Tablet PCs. But they aren’t selling them; it’s all part of a growing trend in retail, one that is melding people, technology and the supply chain.
“The growing trend can be attributed to the growth of interest in technology automation in retail,” said Shyam Krishnan, program manager and team leader of the retail systems, kiosks and supply chain practice at analyst Frost & Sullivan. “These kinds of investments are seeing an upward trend also because of the kind of ROI the investments promise; they are more “R” in nature.”
Although Circuit City declined to be interviewed for this story, stating they weren’t yet ready to talk about their new initiative yet, Philip Schoonover told an audience at the recent National Retail Federation conference in New York that the new, smaller Circuit City stores rolling out this year will carry two new technological features: in store kiosks that offer demos and allow real-time chats between customers and the company’s firedog support staff (Circuit City’s answer to Best Buy’s Geek Squad), and salespeople that carry wirelessly-enabled tablet PCs, which will be used to sell customers the right products.