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In a bid to integrate the digital world with the in-store shopping experience, Boots has launched its new IBM mobile app – SalesFirst.

Designed to improve customer service, it has just been rolled out to 2,500 stores across the UK.

With heavy involvement from Boots employees, it’s part of IBM’s drive to change the way businesses work through greater access to data.

Here’s a quick run-down of how it works – along with the benefits for all!

Access to Boots product database 

As Director of Omnichannel and Development Robin Phillips explained during the recent press launch, the app is there ‘to remove the possibility of customer disappointment’. 

Linked to the Boots' online database, it will provide a wealth of information ranging from the availability of products to reviews and ingredients.

With greater detail and analytics capabilities than Boots.com, as well as a much faster and user-friendly interface, SalesFirst is essentially designed to help employees help customers. 

Enables a one-to-one experience

On the back of its famous tagline, ‘Let’s feel good’, the app aims to make customers feel good throughout the entirety of their time spent in-store.

Customer service assistant Vickie Ward explained how the best thing about the technology is that it enables staff to provide a more personal experience.

Alongside product information, customers can also discover related or alternative items, which in turn encourages staff to make recommendations and give their own opinions.

By using technology as a focus point, the aim is to allow for greater human interaction and customer engagement in-store. 

Once the customer’s initial interest is piqued, natural conversation is likely to occur.

In contrast to the solitary and sometimes frustrating self-service checkouts, this definitely spells good news for people who prefer one-to-one interaction instead of faceless technology.

Aims to increase conversions

With its customer-centric features, Boots is hoping that the SalesFirst app will increase in-store purchases.

Instead of abandoning the store due to lack of stock, the app will enable customers to locate the product they want in a nearby outlet – also prompting them to place an order there and then.

Similarly, by using high quality images and showcasing offers and promotions, the app also promotes extra incentives to buy.

Changes the way employees work

During the app’s development, IBM and partners Apple worked with Boots employees to gain insight into what features would help them the most.

As one of the select few invited to take part, Vickie Ward explained how giving employees increased confidence on the job was a huge motivation.

While employees might have struggled to provide information in the past, the knowledge that access to data is there means that staff will be more proactive when dealing with customers.

Feedback has shown that, instead of waiting for enquiries, SalesFirst makes employees feel more confident in approaching customers and offering up information.

The technology might not be ground-breaking, but for Boots – a retailer placing more emphasis on the customer’s omnichannel experience – it’s certainly a big help.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 29 June, 2016 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (1)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, CINO at Fresh Relevance

Here's how this worked on my visit 10 days ago to Boots Worle branch. Boots staff piqued my interest by waiting 15 minutes, then placing my prescription medicine in a plastic tray, just out of reach, and refusing to let me have it for another 15 minutes. Natural conversation then occurred. There are times when you yearn for more faceless technology.

11 months ago

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