Q&A With Carl Boutet

For retailers, effective staff training and great customer experience go hand-in-hand. So, how do you prepare your frontline to attract and engage customers?

For answers to these questions (and so many more), NewKnow sat down with Carl Boutet, Executive Director of Data & Insights at CloudRaker and Chief Retail Strategist at StudioRx.  Having worked with global and independent retailers for over 25 years, this industry guru gave us some valuable insights on the future of retail and retail training.

To learn more about Carl Boutet and his take on today’s retail landscape, check out our NewKnow Q and A:

Given your experience, what is essential to creating valuable in-store experiences?

Firstly, you have to look at personalization.  You need to consider what is relevant to your specific customer – what are they looking for and what do they need? For low consideration purchases, it’s about convenience and time.  They want to be in-and-out as quickly as possible.

But for others it’s about discovery, surprise and delight. It’s crucial for you as retailer to know where you stand in that spectrum and where you will create value for your customer.

How have you seen stores create unique experiences for customers?

I’m seeing a lot of stores create interesting, curated experiences for their customers.  Smaller businesses are creating really well curated and engaging events to get customers to visit their shops.  I also see larger chain stores finding relevant ways to get their customers to experience new things.

People are creating events, engaging with customers through a combination of digital and physical platforms.  It’s all about finding different ways to make stores relevant to your target customer.

What are the roles of the frontline when it comes to creating these surprising and delightful experiences for customers?  

I work at a strategy level and it’s critical that the frontline be in sync with those strategies.  

This means that the frontline needs to know and understand the company’s mission, vision and how to execute its operational guidelines. They need to have the most up-to-date product knowledge. They need to be in-the-know when it comes to the latest and greatest and how that relates to the customers’ needs.

The entire team has to be on the same page – that’s key. So, there needs to be a way to connect everyone and connect everything together seamlessly.

Connection is clearly important. What are the challenges that come with trying to achieve this?

The major challenge with getting everyone together and on the same page comes down to the speed to market. In retail things are constantly moving.

Think of the fashion world.  With fast fashion, some product turnovers are a week or even less than that!

And there’s more information about products, and customers have quick and easy access to that information.  A lot of frontline staff get frustrated because their customers are better informed than they are.

So, you need to keep your staff up to speed on everything.  You need to think about how you’re going to execute your strategy, and you need to get your staff to buy into that strategy.

Do you see digital training as a useful way to get staff to buy-in to that strategy?

Yes, but they need to be aligned with a company’s strategy.  They should be used to engage the frontline and to address more long-term goals.

A platform that keeps track of the staff’s training and the store’s performance is incredibly valuable for on-going strategizing.  

What are your thoughts about incentivizing this type of training?

Incentives are great ideas, but they’re only as good as the user experience. Training platforms should be easy-to-use and fun!

It’s also really important to keep in mind that these types of tools should match the user experience.  Your staff is using Instagram and Snapchat.  Any tool they use for training should be like those experiences.  There should be that kind of smooth transition.

Is the NewKnow App something that provides this transition?

Definitely.  There are other training platforms that are focused on desktop, but the fact that NewKnow is a mobile technology means it provides training that’s ready for your staff, when they’re ready to use it.  

NewKnow’s mobile strategy makes it really good for the end-user. And that’s important for having your frontline buy into that valuable training and your overall strategy.  Actually, it’s essential.

When you owned your retail stores, how would you have used the NewKnow app?

It would have been my go-to tool.  It would have been key to the onboarding process. This would have been step-one in terms of how we would communicate.

Where do you see the trends in retail going?

We’re moving away from the ideas that stores are either physical or digital.  The lines have really been blurred. We’re also starting to see a lot of brands opening their own retail spaces.  There’s a growing need for everyone to harmonize the customer experiences in the digital and physical space, so they need a tool to do that.

This is where an app, like NewKnow, provides a real advantage.


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