COVID-19 & physical commerce: how a sports retail brand has redeployed their employees online

8min read - Joanna Rouby

The arrival of the coronavirus in Europe has had a tremendous impact on commerce. From the beginning of the month, “non-essential” brands have seen a sharp decrease in frequentations and in certain countries, they eventually had to shut their doors. Meanwhile, e-commerce and online conversations are on the rise. How can you solve the low sales staff occupation rate issue? One of our clients in the sports retail industry has successfully transferred its sales workforce to digital. This is their experience.

This sports brand has been using iAdvize, the conversational platform, to assist their customers via messaging in customer service and product advice since 2016. In physical stores, every sales staff is an expert in their own sport. To enhance this specialized staffs’ skills, our client decided to have them test the iAdvize application in 2019. This sales staff advises online customers directly via messaging from the physical store.

At the beginning of March, as the COVID-19 virus was spreading through Europe, the brand’s physical stores saw a strong decrease in frequentation. Despite this, the e-commerce activity is increasing and customers queries have multiplied.

To compensate for the low agent occupation rate and to support online agents, the brand has decided to redeploy 400 sales staff for online support with iAdvize. They work remotely, on their desktops or via the mobile application.

Mid-March, shops were ordered to close. Online customer service saw a drastic increase in activity.

The questions asked by chat on different pages dedicated to different types of sports (fitness, yoga, but also outdoor) are redirected to the sales staff depending on their skills and knowledge. Managers have been trained to add these advisers to the platform very easily and to assign them to a particular sport.

An infographic showing the results of this strategy

Preserved customer satisfaction

More than just pre-sales advice, the sales staff are now available to help online agents and to handle the large volume of customer questions about delivery methods and delays. The brand intends to maintain an optimal customer satisfaction rate, which is their ultimate priority.

Source: iAdvize data, March 2020

Want to read more?
Article
Humanising eCommerce: How in-store staff can enrich online conversations
Article
Experiential Stores for an Experience Economy
Article
The experience economy: a source of opportunities for brands