Our recently published report, The Store Associate Tools Landscape, Q4 2023, lists the 18 most notable vendors in the space and details the 10 most important use cases that they’re focusing on for clients today.

As a retail leader, you’ll need to champion how new or updated store associate tools (SATs) can help:

  • Support store associates in their ever-changing roles. Forrester’s Workforce Survey, 2023, reveals that 40% of workers employed full-time or part-time in retail tell us that their mental health has suffered because of the pandemic and related challenges, and half feel like they’re working harder now than they did before the pandemic. Retail professionals must leverage digital capabilities to standardize associate-level processes, manage tasks, and support associates with training and development.
  • Deliver experiences that satisfy hard and soft consumer needs. Empowered customers will evaluate their experience based on how it meets their needs. These needs include the ease with which they can buy your products and services but also the softer needs of an emotionally pleasing experience. For example, 61% of US online adults (along with 59% in France and 56% in the UK) said that when shopping in-store, they would find it valuable to place an order with an associate for an out-of-stock item for home delivery or pickup at a later date. Additionally, one-third of US online adults said that they are most influenced to make a purchase from a retailer/brand when store associates are friendly and sincere.
  • Drive operational efficiency. We forecast that click-and-collect sales will top $200 billion by 2028 — that’s double what we saw in 2022. Retailers are under enormous pressure to make store fulfillment more efficient. To meet customer expectations for services such as click-and-collect, store associates need intuitive and reliable tools to manage pick, pack, and ship workflows.

Store Associate Tools Are Systems of Engagement For Associates

The core (required) functions of SATs include managing tasks to increase productivity, improving labor efficiency, and simplifying associate communication and collaboration. These use cases represent a broad set of functionalities that enable operational efficiency and consistency across all retail locations.

The extended (less common) use cases, however, support specific business models and associate training. Just a few use cases that some SAT solutions serve include:

  • Mobile clienteling tools/apps for associates. These tools enhance the customer experience by providing sales associates with customer insights and purchase history for upselling/cross-selling.
  • Omnichannel order fulfillment tools for associates. These tools enable store associates to fulfill online orders (e.g., click-and-collect) from physical stores.
  • Digital training for onboarding and development. These tools integrate new hires into the organization and upskill current associates through a consistent and scalable training program.

Questions? Forrester clients can book time with me (via an inquiry or guidance session) so I can help answer your questions about this evolving landscape. You can also engage with me on LinkedIn.