Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, advanced analytics, automation. Technology is a powerful force. It can help retailers detect patterns, predict preferences, and simulate what’s possible. It puts the power of choice in the palm of shoppers’ hands. And it allows brands to connect with them in ways never thought possible. But even as technology continues to disrupt brick-and-mortar retail, Big Red Rooster believes the BEST experiences still hinge on the human touch.

High expectations around Human

Store staffing has always been one of retailers’ biggest expenses. Technology has reduced it some – through things like scan-and-go, self-checkouts, and RFID inventory tracking. There is, of course, at least one store where shoppers can walk in and out without any personal interactions at all. But even as automation lessens the need for certain human staff, our study shows that shoppers still have high expectations around the Human dimension.

A wake-up call for retailers

Do your associates anticipate shoppers’ needs? Are they knowledgeable about not only what’s available in-store but what’s available online? Are they hands-off when shoppers don’t want help but available when they do? Specialty, high-touch sectors like Electronics and Health & Beauty performed best in this dimension, across the 10 sectors studied for our report. Sectors like Mass Merchandise, Department Stores, and Off-Price performed the poorest.

A health & beauty brand doing it right

Step into any Lush store, and you’ll feel the human touch everywhere. Staffers are not only passionate about Lush and its brand ethos, they are also extremely knowledgeable about its extensive range of handmade products. They take pride in finding a product that’s the right fit, and shoppers can’t help but feel energized each time they visit. Lush believes that nothing compares to an in-store experience where customers can touch, feel, and play with products and engage with highly trained employees who are an extension of the brand.

See how Big Red Rooster has helped Rheem humanize the Home Improvement sector, creating an emotional connection with homeowners both in- and out-of-store.

What can you do?

There’s no technology or algorithm that can fully replace quality interactions like those happening at Lush, but it can amplify them – especially as data becomes bigger, richer, and more accessible to store staff. Start by thinking of staffing as an investment rather than an expense. Invest in human-centric design, meaningful storytelling, and technologies that empower associates rather than replace them.

Want more? Let’s start the conversation.

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