The new service desk would enhance social responsibility

Articulate store staffers with a computer could help shoppers buy, with public good in mind.

May 15, 2014

Millennials and Boomers relate to the foods they buy on deeper levels today.  Millennials want more natural foods from safe, humane origins, and Boomers seek nutrition to help stave off health problems.  Members of all generations seek more socially responsible brands, according to recent studies.

Indeed, Good Must Grow survey findings show that 30% of consumers are shopping with more social responsibility in 2014 than in prior years.

What do these trends mean to retailers?  How could stores better align with these new ways of shopping today?  The Lempert Report believes the longer stores stay silent and act as passive gateways to products on their shelves, the less they become destinations for socially responsible shoppers, the more business they cost themselves, and the less opportunity they have to differentiate.

We suggest an upgrade to the customer service desk.  Staff the desk with articulate people who are trained and conversant in the social-responsibility efforts of brands and manufacturers on the store’s shelves.  Equip them with a computer and high-speed Internet access so they answer specific customer questions that arise.  Think of staff imparting information in a manner like reference librarians, to help store guests make better-informed purchase decisions.  As staffers share insights, they demonstrate caring, and they have a chance to describe the store’s own social-responsibility initiatives.

We’re not suggesting that customer service reps try to fill the roles of nutritionists, butchers, fishmongers or other food experts at the stores.  More consumers want to know about the corporate behavior of suppliers.  This fairly new wrinkle in shopping provides retailers an opportunity to be transparent with the shopping public, and to be perceived as being more on their side.

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