Challenges Facing RSA's When Competing With The New Breed of Internet Retailers

Posted by David Fisher on

Being a Retail Sales Associate (RSA) in the new age of internet retail sales is challenging at best. Consumers can shop in the comfort of their own homes. They have access to instant information at their fingertips, the advantage of saving on gas and not having to deal with that irritating salesperson who follows them around the showroom, creeping them out, and in turn not making a connection that allows the salesperson to ask for the sale.

Although the challenges are mounting, the most important thing a successful RSA must understand is that, because of this new, fast paced competition, their opportunities will become fewer and much more valuable. Those consumers coming through your doors will be armed with more information than ever before (whether accurate or not). We must be more educated, more knowledgeable, more professional, and more socially intuitive than in the past.

The first advantage that we, the RSAs have, that consumers can’t get with the internet is interaction. Consumers always relate much more favorably to in-person, human contact. They feel more comfortable knowing that someone is close by to answer any questions they may have.

Second is product presentation and demonstration. The internet can display pictures of mattress models, showing the various construction layers and explaining the differences between the models. But RSAs are able to qualify customers in-person, direct them to the technology which closely meets their specific health, comfort, and sleep requirements. RSAs can present each sleep system, explaining their features, demonstrating how each construction benefits the consumer’s unique, personal needs (be it sleep apnea, fibromyalgia, back pain, acid reflux, previous surgeries, etc.).

Third, the internet can not immediately address concerns and overcome objections that arise which may hinder a decision to purchase. An RSA has an immense advantage in that they can build a relationship of trust that enables the consumer to make an informed, confident, educated decision. This reduces returns and increases the number of sleep systems that stay in the home.

In conclusion, it is imperative that RSAs remain highly trained, extremely and continually educated, seasoned professionals. The internet is stealing opportunities so it is becoming increasingly important that we make the shrinking number of opportunities count. We must build on the internet’s weaknesses, making a social connection with the customer, listening to their needs, exhibiting confidence, compassion, knowledge, and expertise. These steps will allow RSA’s to beat the internet in the battle for the hearts, minds and dollars of today’s bedding customers.

About David

David Fisher is originally from Philadelphia, Pa. He owned and managed a chain of women’s shoe stores in Pittsburgh for many years. Later he was a sales associate at Levin Furniture in Pittsburgh, Rooms to Go in South Florida, and RC Willey in Las Vegas, Nevada. Fisher was National Sales Manager for Bell Sleep Products LLC, a bedding line developed for Bell Furniture Industries by International Bedding Corporation. He is currently a sales consultant with Macy’s. View all articles by David
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