Kiehl’s connects online shoppers with in-store associates

While the majority of consumers still prefer shopping in-store, 72% admit to having visited showrooms in the past 12 months. The way people shop is changing with smartphones, and retailers must adapt to this change.

Salesfloor announced in August a mobile messaging service that connects customers with their local store associates via text messaging. This new service allows associates to make product recommendations via SMS, so customers can shop online with their favorite associate or local store.

Below is an interview with Jason Steiner (retail director at Kiehl’s,) and Oscar Sachs (CEO and co-founder, Salesfloor), about how the cosmetics retailer uses this technology and the results it sees.

Total retail: Are store associates paid for online sales that are done in-store? How does Kiehl’s address the issue of attribution for purchase?
Jason Steiner We knew that we had to compensate our in-store team members for using Salesfloor’s technology. This would allow them to engage with it and not create an e-commerce vs. online divide. It also allows our associates to view customers as omnichannel clients. Salesfloor has helped our associates better understand the customer journey since we began compensating them through Salesfloor. With the help of our associates online, we’ve seen that the average basket size has increased by 10 percent. This is why we have created omnichannel sales goals. It changes the way we view sales across different channels and treats all sales as a complete P&L.

Oscar Sachs You can’t worry about in-store sales versus online sales if you are going to be serving an Omnichannel customer. To ensure that the right people are getting credit, retailers create omnichannel P&Ls.

TR How has the response been from Kiehl’s associates to the new tools that they have available for clienteling?
JS It has been very positive. They are excited to be able to do more entrepreneurial work. They use technology to strengthen their relationships with shoppers even when they aren’t physically present in-store. It also allows them to increase their online sales on days with slower in-store traffic.

OS The biggest benefit that associates have is the fact that they no longer feel like they are losing sales to showroom customers. Each associate has their own online storefront so they can transact 24/7. According to associates, they like the fact that they don’t have to limit their inventory. They can sell anything in collection. Our retailers have also told us that this is a great way to recruit and retain employees.

TR What is the training period for store associates who use the Salesfloor solution and how long does it take?
JS As with any new tool, there is a period for adaptation. We were able to test the program in specific stores and iron out some of the kinks. It is extremely user-friendly, so the challenges were more operational. This was really how we ensured that teams understood the benefits and bought into the tool.

TR What types of customer data is Kiehl’s collecting online and in-store to allow seamless omnichannel shopping?
OS The non-negotiable information we consider to be the customer’s first and last names, email addresses, postal codes, gender, and postal code is We also value RFM (recency frequency and monetary). What date was the last time the customer purchased? How often do they purchase and what is the average cost of each purchase? We also want to know which platform they use and what items they are purchasing.

TR What has been the reaction from Kiehl’s customers in-store to the clienteling tools used by store associates? Do you feel there is any concern or pushback that this might be too “Big Brotherish”?
JS We notice the exact opposite. Our store’s nature is high touch service. Customers shared their frustration with us about how we knew so little but didn’t do anything. Salesfloor allows us to access this data and better serve our customers, no matter if they are in-store or home. We are now using data to better service our customers, shoppers say.

TR What are the metrics that retailers should use to measure the effectiveness of their clienteling tools for clients?
JS We are an Omnichannel retailer and our metrics are RFM. Our customers are not considered online or in-store customers. We view them as omnichannel customers. We therefore look at how often they shop, their recency and how much they spend.

OS We present a variety of metrics to retailers so they can make a decision. Each retailer has a unique customer journey, and metrics are different. We generally look at the number requests that are coming in-store from customers who have shopped online through Salesfloor. Open rates are also considered when an associate contacts a shopper one-on-one. Our open rate is twice that of the national newsletter. This is extremely efficient. Clickthrough rates are also considered.

TRFor Kiehl’s ,what percent of online purchases are made vs. in-store?
JS We have an option on our register to track all customers who come in after they interact with Salesfloor. The benefits of Salesfloor are not limited to purchase. Customer acquisition is also a benefit of Salesfloor. We also have the ability to drive customers in-store with Salesfloor, which is a huge benefit to us.

OS Salesfloor helps retailers realize that it doesn’t just drive sales online, but also in-store. Salesfloor allows retailers to link up to $68 to every $100 that is converted online by a Sales associate. The store also saw a third of the benefits of customers shopping online.

TR What does this solution from Salesfloor mean for other areas of Kiehl’s organization, such as inventory management, order fulfillment and marketing?
J Stock problems can happen and we sometimes run out of key SKUs in store. Salesfloor allows associates to sell more than what is physically available in their stores. They also have access to all SKUs via our e-commerce site.


Kohl’s will accept Amazon Returns and Kohl’s announced this week that 82 Kohl’s stores in the Los Angeles and Chicago areas will offer free returns for Amazon customers. Starting in October, Kohl’s stores will ship eligible Amazon returns free of charge to customers. To make it even simpler for customers, participating Kohl’s stores will offer designated parking spots. It’s not yet clear if and when the program will be expanded to other markets.

Total Retail’s Take : Kohl’s has expanded its partnership with Amazon rather than trying to be a competitor. Kohl’s began selling Amazon devices such as the Echo and Fire tablets at 10 of its stores earlier this month. The new program that offers free Amazon returns is expected to attract more customers to Kohl’s stores. Customers who use Amazon to return items to Kohl’s may feel tempted to shop in the store. This is one way that the department store chain can combat declining foot traffic.

Tom Caporaso CEO of Clarus Commerce said that “the major question will be how Kohl’s will benefit from that increased traffic.” The partnership will not be mutually beneficial if Kohl’s does nothing to attract customers after they drop off their returns. Kohl’s main concern will be to make this customer more loyal through this partnership.