Lamps Plus has a new strategy. The specialty lighting retailer is hiring sales associates to serve dual roles as both brick-and-mortar retail store associates and customer care agents.
Lamps Plus’ hybrid sales agents fluctuate between the showroom store floor and their store's backroom office. During slower customer traffic days, typically certain weekdays, agents may be in their office focusing on helping LampsPlus.com customers via phone and online chats. On high traffic store days, usually weekends and Fridays, these specialized agents are dedicated to the store floor to offer lighting and home furnishings expertise to in-person customers. However, each agent’s versatility enables them to serve the most critical customer sales needs at any moment, regardless of the daily schedule.
The company currently has a hybrid sales agent in 16 stores and three online chat agents. Each of the 36 Lamps Plus stores is expected to have at least one hybrid sales agent by the end of 2021. These dual function retail roles are atypical, as retailers commonly hire, train and designate separate specialists for stores or call center support.
“Just as we value athletes who excel in multiple abilities in their sport, our hybrid store agents are becoming extremely important by offering previously unavailable sales opportunities both in our stores and remotely through the phone and online chat,” said Terre Wellington, SVP of Store Operations. “As an omnichannel retailer, we need to be ready to serve customers wherever they are. When customers arrive at our stores, we expect to help them solve their home lighting challenges with highly trained sales experts. When customers access our website or call us, we expect the exact same experience.”
In their backroom office, hybrid agents have a two-monitor computer to handle chats and calls.
On the store floor, hybrid agents serve the role that is common for store associates, assisting customers by showing and explaining lighting and home furnishings through products featured in-store or helping customers browse the company’s e-commerce site at one of several computer kiosks throughout each store. In their backroom office, hybrid agents have a two-monitor computer to handle chats and calls.
The company invests at least four weeks to train each hybrid sales agent, the same amount of time dedicated to every store and call center employee. The hybrid sales agent training is slightly more intense to cover both roles.
“The hybrid sales agent initiative has reduced store operating costs because stores now serve both local and national customers so stores have a higher value,” said Wellington. “In store areas, online sales and brand awareness are higher than the rest of the country. We’ll continue to use our stores to test and implement innovations to better serve all customers.”
Lamps Plus has identified an additional benefit of Texas- and Colorado-based hybrid sales agents, better serving East Coast customers with customer service agents available throughout each day during the Central and Mountain Time Zones. The company has also been adding remote sales agents to East Coast states, where there are no stores, to better serve national customers.
The hybrid sales agent initiative follows the focus on store innovation using technology, including implementing the ability for customers to text stores. Hybrid store associates were introduced to extend the use of flexibility and technology further to enhance the shopping experience.
In addition to hybrid store agents serving homeowners, Lamps Plus has tested placing agents from its professional trade division, Lamps Plus Pros, in stores so professional customers – including builders, contractors and interior designers – have a local Pros agent in their areas to share knowledge and strengthen relationships. Typically remote positions, these agents will continue to serve their Pros customer accounts throughout the nation, while being situated in a store location.