What if chains asked all associates to pour into a database their specialties and backgrounds? What if a Best Buy site could steer you to a store and a specific associate who owns—and is, therefore, highly familiar with—your specific surround-sound system? What if you are a cross-country athlete and want to find a Sports Authority associate who is an expert in that specific sport? Perhaps the database might reveal a much more narrow area: A Macy's associate who is familiar with Irish wedding gift traditions. A Home Depot employee with experience restoring Victorian mansions. The idea of creating an extensive, searchable database—Web-accessible, too—of all of your associates' experience and expertise seems relatively low cost with two huge upsides. One: Possible new sales. Two: The very act of creating such a database sends out the message of credibility and a true desire to help the customer.
On Tuesday (April 24), Walgreens rolled out what it calls the "first online find your pharmacist" search tool. The idea is that different pharmacists have different backgrounds, different specialties, and this approach enables customers to connect with someone best suited for their medical issues. Whereas this specific app is narrowly focused on drug stores, could the concept work in other areas of retail?