Hire “hospitality”, train product and sales skills


Humans seek meaningful moments. Moments of pure joy and surprise. At the same time shoppers of today can access any product information anytime and anywhere they want. Instead of recruiting for sales-related knowledge, retailers should employ humans with empathy and a natural sense for hospitality.




In an honor of World Sleep Day and for a personalised experience, IKEA hosted in-store sleepover events for customers in two stores in New York City and Los Angeles. On their website the furniture giant also gives inspiration on how to host your own private sleepover party for kids.

Interested in more inspiring cases?

Check out our published editions to dive deeper into the spheres of Reframing Retail.

That’s exactly how we operate on the shop floor – as an alternative to the impersonal online world. To this end, we have taken aside our USP – simple and fast access to glasses for all customers – and have put the in-store team culture into focus instead.

Nils Vortmann

Mister Spex

One does not need pure “fulfillment agents” in the store, but experience managers or somewhat exaggerated – “feel-good managers with product know-how”. The way the advisor treats me as a customer has a significant influence on sales. If I feel comfortable and am treated as an equal, I will be more inclined to spend more and not to pay attention to whether I got the best bargain.

It makes sense to push digitization in retail: to automate specific manual processes, and to offer customers as well as employees more time in their daily lives. Using technology wisely allows you to be a host, to discover true potential and to interact with the customer. That is a solid pathway to make brick-and-mortar retail fit for the future.

In my view, that will not be the case. I see the relevance of screens or touchpads as possibly interesting for trade fairs and such like, but less for physical shops. It’s really about sources of inspiration, interior design, haptics and spontaneous shopping. The haptic, direct on-site experience is coming back in a big way. If digital elements are integrated, then this is mainly done via smartphone.

The question of the best price, availability and flexibility is solved online par excellence in my view. On the other hand, this means that a repositioning is necessary for the physical space. And I think that this is really about the things that you just can’t fake online and that you just can’t practice online. In the physical space, we have a clearly different possibility for human space, and thus to play with empathy and emotions.

Relevant for the success of good ‘hosts’ are the mastery of: A sense of style, curation, service, authenticity and simplicity.

Josef Roosen

Dachmarken Forum

This is ultimately the raison d’ĂȘtre of local retail – to create encounters with people. This is classic people’s business and the clear difference to online retail. This also applies to new small formats, such as Ikea, with smaller spaces that are becoming more individual and personal. This will certainly become even more so, especially as such central locations are now also likely to become cheaper for retailers. Nevertheless, the stationary business must be much more strongly networked with the online business, otherwise the sales advice will have no effect and will come to nothing if different channels are not used.

Bettina Zimmermann

Ganter Interior

It’s not hosts that need to be recruited, that sounds to me like I can sort of delegate that, but I need to be a host myself. I also have to develop an attitude. It has to come across clearly why I’m selling these products. So the biggest key, aside from being a host, is not sales skills, but purchasing expertise. Just look at the fashion industry. Many retailers have even given up this competence by letting the brands manage the space. They don’t even know what their customers want. And of course, you have to make sure that you can get away from comparability.

Markus Schwitzke

Schwitzke ID

As everything becomes more contactless, anonymous and digital, retailers can make all the difference by having hosts in the store who bring in the personal, the welcoming and the warmth that you cannot experience like that in online retail. Conceptually, we can do everything right in terms of visual merchandising and the product, but if we do not have good sales people in the store, especially in the jewellery sector, where personal advice and service are simply necessary in this price segment, then we will not sell this piece of jewellery.

Jochen Schmidt


At Butlers, the customer used to have to make a purchase decision on the basis of the decorated table in the store. This is now to be supplemented by strengthening the dialogue with customers. This is less about providing pure product information or promotions, but primarily about background information to reinforce the employees’ own competence as hosts.

Your Opinion