SOURCE: Experticity


October 28, 2013 10:00 ET

eXperticity Survey Uncovers "Expertise Gap" in Retail Stores

Consumers Value Salesperson Expertise Above All Else, Yet Most Sales Associates Fall Short

SALT LAKE CITY, UT--(Marketwired - Oct 28, 2013) - eXperticity today announced the findings of its first ever Retail Buying Experience survey, uncovering a striking expertise gap among sales associates in five retail areas: outdoor, sporting goods, hunting or fishing, health and nutrition, and prestige beauty. The study of 600 U.S. consumers shows that consumers value sales associate expertise above all else, but finds that consumers often find such expertise lacking.

Read more detailed blog post: Closing the Expertise Gap

"The Retail Buying Experience survey shows that consumers still fundamentally want helpful expertise from retail sales associates to guide buying decisions while many of today's retailers have opted for low-cost employees, forcing buyers to turn elsewhere for information," said Tom Stockham, CEO of eXperticity. "This research clearly shows that consumers are not happy having to do all the research themselves and crave retail to play a hands-on role with their buying decisions." 

Click to Tweet:  Where have all the knowledgeable salespeople gone?

Consumers Expect Expertise from Retailers in Key Areas
When asked to rate which services consumers most desire and value from retail sales associates, the top four were:

1. Product knowledge (73 percent)
2. Help selecting the correct product (71 percent)
3. Category knowledge (69 percent)
4. Help finding alternatives when the first choice is not available (68 percent)

A consumer from California who participated in the related focus group said it is simple: "I want them to be knowledgeable and be able to answer my questions precisely, concisely and competently."

Forty Percent of Consumers Find Sales Associates Fall Short
Two in five consumers are routinely disappointed by the lack of expertise of the sales associates they encounter in retail stores. The biggest shortcoming is in finding suitable alternatives, cited by 43 percent of consumers. Category knowledge, product knowledge and help selecting products were skills also cited as lacking. A consumer from Atlanta commented "They don't know a lot about the product because they haven't had the proper training."

Consumers Fall Back to Other Sources for Expertise
Given the value consumers place on expertise, it is not surprising that when they cannot find it at retail stores, they find it elsewhere. Consumers tell us the resource they find most useful in terms of obtaining expertise is talking to someone they perceive to be an expert (72 percent find this somewhat to extremely useful). This is followed by online searching (71 percent), online user reviews (66 percent) and traditional product reviews and articles (65 percent). According to a consumer who participated in our focus group, "You can just research so much and there's a variety of opinions. It's hard to separate fact from opinion."

Lessons for Retailers
For retailers, the message is clear: Making sure your sales associates have the proper expertise is good business. eXperticity has the following recommendations:

  • Invest in the right people - There are people out there who love and use your products and your competitor's products every day.
  • Train the people who love your stuff - So often retail employees get trained in things like how to improve service. That has a place, but if they don't know the products inside and out, they won't be able to provide the proper guidance. And if your customers have a bad experience after they leave your store, that smiley face from your team doesn't mean much
  • Reward expertise - If your employees are in love with the stuff you sell and know everything about, then they probably want to be rewarded with your stuff--discounts merchandise, tickets to related events, etc.
  • Evangelize the value of helpful expertise - We are all consumers and fundamentally can speak to how a great buying experience impacts your satisfaction. Leading people to the lowest price on your shelf doesn't build relationships. Ask customers what they want, why they want it. 


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About the 2013 Retail Buying Experience Survey
The Retail Buying Experience survey, sponsored by eXperticity, was conducted by ReRez Research in Dallas in September 2013. 600 consumers were surveyed in five affinity areas: outdoor, sporting goods, hunting or fishing, health and nutrition, and prestige beauty. 

About eXperticity
eXperticity, Inc. is growing the world's largest community of influential experts to drive retail sales and create premier buying experiences through its expert knowledge platform, and its expert incentive platform, Together the platforms bring together thousands of the most innovative, forward-thinking brands and retailers, and hundreds of thousands of trusted product experts to drive better sales and an improved customer buying experience. The company's on-demand and performance-based products enable brands and retailers to educate, deliver incentives and foster firsthand product experience to credible, category-specific experts as well as collect important insights and analyze their effectiveness. By fostering long-term, high-value relationships, manufacturers see better results, retailers improve performance, experts are rewarded for their knowledge and consumers have better buying experiences. eXperticity currently works with over 560 brands, 52,000 retail locations and more than 1,200,000 influential experts. Learn more about the company at