Sellers from the future

In science fiction films, we often see that robots have completely replaced human labor. In reality, this is still far away (good or bad – you decide), but today the latest technologies greatly simplify the daily work of many of us. For example, retailers.

The largest retail companies use the latest developments to make the work of their employees more comfortable and efficient. Even compared to the early 2000s. this profession has changed a lot and now offers excellent opportunities for career growth, decent earnings and self-development. We analyzed the working days of M.Video employees in order to understand which of the myths about the work of sellers are a thing of the past.

For the accuracy of the narrative, we additionally questioned our sellers. Meet Mikhail Vasiliev, store manager in Afimall shopping center, has been working in M.Video for over 10 years.

Maria Struchkova has been working as a network seller for over 11 years. She started her career in Saratov. Now she has been working in the capital’s shopping center Mega Belaya Dacha for more than five years.

Myth number 1. You need to work “from dawn to dusk”

Modern sellers independently choose a convenient work schedule within work shifts. The start and end time of the working day of each employee takes into account facial biometrics system from the Russian company Verme

Unlike old-fashioned badges, which can be lost or handed over to more punctual colleagues, an infrared camera recognizes the face of each employee, correlates it with a database of uploaded photos, and records the time of his arrival to work or leaving home.

The received data is entered into the IT system, forming a timesheet. If you want to earn extra money after couples at the institute or pick up the children from the kindergarten early, you can build an individual schedule. At the same time, all employees are on equal terms, and there are no questions about the accuracy and transparency of payments.

Mikhail Vasiliev: – Control is good, it allows you to know more and analyze better. The main thing is that there is not too much of it, so that the motivation of the sellers does not suffer from this. A couple of years ago we launched a face scanning system. This is how the arrival and departure of employees to work is recorded. The manager can at any time see what time a particular employee arrives, monitor delays and avoid possible conflicts in the team

Myth number 2. You need to memorize the entire range and characteristics of products

Today, electronics and household appliances stores offer such a wide range of products that it is simply impossible to remember each of them. And it is not necessary. Indeed, in the smartphones of sellers there is an application with access to the full range of the network, a comparison function and recommendation services that will select accessories and services suitable for the main product or offer alternatives that are more suitable for the client.

Moreover, a helper bot lives in Telegram. It is enough to ask a question of interest – the system will instantly provide information about all procedures, current promotions, useful resources, etc. If there is no answer to a specific question in the system yet, specialists will analyze it and answer on their own or add the missing section to the “knowledge base”.

Maria Struchkova: – In fact, technology has seriously advanced our work. For example, when starting a conversation with a client, it is enough for me to authorize him by phone number in order to get access to his previous experience of interacting with the company. I see discounts and personal offers available to him, what he bought and what he was interested in, what brands and products he prefers. As a result, my help becomes more accurate and personalized. It was not easy to break old habits and reorganize to work with a smartphone in hand, but a positive response is very motivating.

Myth number 3. The seller is a temporary part-time job without career growth

Starting your way from the position of a seller, you can rise to the manager, director of the store, or go to the office, if you wish. The company has a multi-stage training system for all categories of employees. For these purposes, the EM Academy platform was developed, containing a full list of educational materials: video lectures, reference materials, webinars, control, test and verification work, forums for communication with colleagues and teachers. At the end of each course, a mini-certification is carried out.

Mikhail Vasiliev: – We all want to earn more here. And the educational system helps in this: expertise in engineering and technology, communications, team management and leadership, safety, efficiency improvement. Analytics allows you to track any indicator of an employee’s performance. If you really want to grow in your career, then in 1-1.5 years it is quite possible. There was nothing like this 10 years ago

Myth number 4. The main task of the seller is to make a sale at any cost

The times when the main task of the seller was to “sell the product” are long gone. In modern retail, one of the priority tasks is to clearly define the needs of the buyer so that he receives all the answers to the questions of interest, purchases the product that best suits his goals and expectations, and also remains satisfied with the service and communication with the seller. Only in this case he will prefer the same store for the next purchase.

And in this matter, the sales floor employees come to the aid of a smart recommendation system based on Machine Learning. She analyzes the customer’s profile and the selected product, offers related products and possible accessories, studies the history of similar purchases. If the selected product is out of stock or delivery takes too long, the system will offer more affordable alternatives with similar functionality.

ML algorithms allow you to work with Big Data, analyze and predict customer behavior, and provide recommendations for correcting actions in real time.

Mikhail Vasiliev: – 10 years ago, there was a computer and a printer in the hall, where they brought the buyer to view information about the product and issue a coupon for the product, after which the client went with him to the checkout, paid, and then waited for delivery. Now, with the help of a smartphone, we can not only help to choose the right product, but personalized approach to the selection and even from our application send an order to the client’s application, where he pays for the purchase and picks up the product either immediately from the shelf or at the service area, bypassing the checkout counter.

Myth number 5. People prefer to either buy online or come to classic stores

The rigid boundaries between large retail chains and online stores have long since been erased. Today, almost all large retail companies have online platforms. And some of them have gone even further.

For example, M.Video implements the OneRetail concept, within which online and physical stores have become mutually integrated, and customers seamlessly move between them. The essence of this concept is that customers, being in a physical store, actively use the advantages of digital technologies, and, conversely, when ordering goods from home, they feel the support of specialists and can share the “torment” of choice with them.

The company’s mobile platform works in such a way that the applications for customers and merchants are connected and complementary. In the seller’s mobile application, there is information about which buyer is in front of him, his purchase history, personal preferences. When a client comes to pick up an online order, all sellers on their mobile devices receive prompt notification of who came for what product, and can quickly issue it, surrounded by due attention and care. Clients are distributed according to the principle of taxi aggregator services.

The buyer in his mobile application sees information about past orders, points of the bonus program, personal recommendations and even personal prices.

Maria Struchkova: – For 11 years, a lot has changed for both sellers and buyers. A special role in this process was played by the pandemic and the restructuring of all processes to fit the new reality.

The most striking one is video consultation. We are accustomed to seeing a person, communicating live, walking around the sales area with him and showing suitable options. Now you don’t have to be physically in the store to do this. Over the past year, I have done dozens of video consultations. If a client needs help at home or in the country, he just needs to request a video consultation, and we will discuss everything through the screen.

Another example is taxi delivery. If I had been told 10 years ago that I could get any small product from the store at home within two hours with delivery by taxi, I would not have believed it. But today it is almost a routine for us.

Myth number 6. Sellers should contact the supervisor for all questions

To make the communication of employees with management and among themselves more efficient and convenient, an intranet portal EM.Life was developed, which won the main prize of the Russian Intranet Awards in 2020.

According to Yegor Petrov, manager of HR projects at M.Video-Eldorado, the main task of the intranet is to help employees feel the pulse of the company so that each of them can focus on solving important tasks that bring maximum value.

The list of the most popular sections of EM.Life includes an address book for quickly finding the right employee, blogs, company news, a system for setting work tasks with real-time feedback and statistics on performance and the level of monthly remuneration for each employee.

In the first days of work or during shifts to other stores, sellers may have some difficulties in finding the right products in the hall. In this case, one of the options of the EM Life intranet portal was developed, which will show the layout of the goods in the hall of the desired store, help you find goods by brands, prices and categories, as well as goods participating in seasonal promotions.

Myth number 7. The seller must constantly monitor the buyers

In early 2021, M.Video-Eldorado began testing its own video analytics system, which not only monitors security, but also optimizes many processes inside the store.

Firstly, cameras determine the location of buyers and if one of them stands alone for a long time, the system can send a seller to help him.

Secondly, the neural network is able to determine the congestion of people in the cashier area and call additional cashiers to work places.

Thirdly, heat maps compiled on the basis of video stream analysis will allow evaluating traffic in different parts of the store, studying customer behavioral models, identifying points of greatest attraction, convenient shelving arrangement and planning the most effective advertising materials placement schemes and, if necessary, redistributing customer flows.

Mikhail Vasiliev: – Each employee has a bot on the phone. It allows you to see who is doing how, the speed of taking orders and the activity of sellers. Our customer should not wander around lost in the store and look for someone to help him. For us, this is also a plus, because customers satisfied with fast and high-quality service are sales, and sales are our income.

Indeed, over the past 10-15 years, the work in retail has changed for the better. Have customers changed? As Maria and Mikhail say almost in unison, buyers have become more independent and responsible in terms of shopping and searching for information on the Internet. They know a lot about the advantages and characteristics of goods, they closely follow promotions and know how to make really profitable purchases.

And, nevertheless, the work of sellers on the trading floor remains important and relevant, because many clients sometimes want to get support or an inside look. They are happy to discuss the selected products, consult with sellers and often just want to get confirmation that they made the right choice.

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