The footwear industry has been hit hard by layoffs and furloughs but a new digital program could offer a glimmer of hope to recently laid-off employees.
Salesfloor, a mobile application that helps retail associates personalize the customer experience, has expanded access to its Virtual Associate program by waiving its annual license fee.
Through the program, retailers can recruit out-of-work employees — or hire new staff — as independent contractors. Virtual Associates are able to communicate with the company’s customers through text-based channels and schedule virtual appointments for in-depth assistance. They are also able to connect with shoppers through self-operated digital Storefronts, from which they can host curated product recommendations and share comments.
Contracted-employees can earn commissions on products sold through these interactions, as Salesfloor’s tracking technology ensures associates are accurately credited. To that end, retailers that haven’t been able to financially support their staff during the economic downturn can still extend a source of income to impacted employees, while providing customers with experienced service.
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“We have an existing solution that, despite store closures and layoffs, will allow retailers to keep selling and associates to continue earning,” said Oscar Sachs, CEO at Salesfloor. “While the Virtual Associate program is a great strategy in normal times, it provides a critical strategic advantage right now.”
Existing Salesfloor customers will gain access to this feature for free, but new retailers can also implement the program for a nominal integration cost and no annual fee. When combined with the company’s Inventory Lookup feature, associates will also gain access to real-time inventory information and be able to share with customers.
Clienteling through apps such as Salesfloor isn’t new. But as consumers pull back on non-essential purchases and retailers lose out on their sales associates’ guidance in-store, providing that connection through digital channels is more critical than ever.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has strongly impacted the retail industry, and it is uncertain when we will be bouncing back,” said Sachs. “In the middle of this unprecedented crisis, [the program] has the potential to benefit retailers, associates and customers, which is why we are providing it at no charge.”
The company, which counts Stuart Weitzman and Lord + Taylor as clients, said implementation takes less than 30 days and includes training, engagement strategies, a monthly sales audit and secure payment services for fund transferal to Virtual Associates.
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