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B-point: Gone today, back tomorrow

Tatjana Brockhoff was just shy of her eighteenth birthday when she joined Blokker as a sales assistant. Having worked at the Toolenburg store in Hoofddorp for nine years, she transferred to the eighth, brand-new pilot store at the Vier Meren shopping centre in Hoofddorp in February 2014. Tatjana, 28, lives in the town of Nieuw-Vennep and trains horses for a commercial business on Sundays. In her spare time she likes to be out and about with her young son, Stefano.

Tatjana’s uniform has the line ‘Questions about our website? I’m happy to assist you!’ printed on the back and around her waist she wears a pouch holding a tablet computer. The launch of the new retail format has changed many things on the shop floor. Products which are no longer included in the product range or no longer in stock at the store can be ordered with a push of a button and are delivered the next day.

Tatjana: ‘The majority of customers love having access to the B-point service – they rave about how convenient they find it. Orders can usually be delivered the next day and customers can choose whether they want them delivered to their home or collect them from the store. People are always very happy to hear that their product will arrive the next day. We used to have to tell customers: “With any luck it will arrive tomorrow,” but now we can simply say: “We’ll get it in tomorrow.” No longer having to disappoint customers by telling them that a product is unavailable is fantastic.’

Serving customers online while they themselves are offline requires a whole new approach: ‘Our entire team attended a four-day training course at the head office. We learned to work on a more customer-focused basis. How do you approach customers and keep the conversation going, for example, or what can you do to really assist a customer? Before the new format was introduced, customers would pass us by as we were stacking shelves. In the new set-up, we simply restock the shelves after closing, so that we can devote all our attention to the customers during opening hours. That means we are much more focused now on assisting and approaching customers. It really makes a huge difference.’ 

Although it has taken some time for both employees and customers to get accustomed to the new format, they all share a sense of excitement. ‘When people first walk into the store, they’ll tell me that they had to look twice to make sure they were really in the right place, because everything looks so neat, uncluttered and well-organised! We really had to help customers get their bearings in the beginning – people didn’t know that there was a B-point. But they’re finding it easier all the time. Most customers are aware of the B-point now and try using the tablet themselves at the service desk. Unfortunately, customers who are not yet aware of the B-point have a harder time finding the tablet. Of course, this is as much a learning process for us as it is for them, so I hope we can create something in the store to make it clear to them that there is a B-point in the store. I’m confident that we will succeed.’