DAVIDsTEA Harnesses Mobile Communication To Strengthen Associate Expertise

The massive selection of teas at DAVIDsTEA can be paralyzing for new customers. That’s where the company’s associates, or Tea Guides, come into play. They serve the essential role of educating and delivering recommendations to tea novices, which has resulted in 97% of DAVIDsTEA customers citing Tea Guides as a key factor in their satisfaction with the brand.

“Our Tea Guides have to be super knowledgeable, because there are 120+ kinds of tea, and it’s very overwhelming for new customers,” said Nathalie Binda, VP of Marketing and e-Commerce at DAVIDsTEA. “When you come in, you don’t know where to start, so one-on-one interaction between a Tea Guide and the customer is critical to the customer journey and turning them into a long-term loyal customer.”


The retailer is harnessing mobile-based communications through Nudge Rewards to ensure its frontline employees are delivering a personalized, expertly curated experience to every shopper. The solution gives Tea Guides instant access to product information and best practices, and saves managers time (an average of 1.5 hours per shift) by keeping associates up-to-date on the latest seasonal offerings and promotions, as well as educating them about classic varieties.

Previously, DAVIDsTEA would email every store a form with the latest information, which managers would then print out and review with each Tea Guide. Under the new system these messages are sent directly to each associates’ phone, letting them learn at their own pace.

“They get a few minutes of reading on their phone every day, and they can interact with it even when they’re not at work because they’re so passionate about the tea anyway,” said April Sabral, former VP of Global Retail Sales and Operations at DAVIDsTEA in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “It gives them more information and makes them feel prepared and they feel more knowledgeable, which gives them more confidence and helps the customer experience.”

Knowledgeable Associates Can Narrow Down A Sea Of Selections

Employees have reacted positively to the new system: the fall 2018 launch was met with a 96% adoption rate among the staff, and given a 90% approval rating in an in-app survey. Managers have saved approximately 90 minutes in coaching time for each shift.

The communication can flow both ways, according to Sabral. When corporate has a question, such as asking why a tea variety may not be selling or what a new product should be named, the software lets associates across the retailer’s 238 stores offer their opinion. This method of communication has produced thousands of responses, letting the front line employees share what customers are saying about the business.

Additionally, the improvements in communication work in tandem with other developments at DAVIDsTEA. The retailer has started testing a new store format designed to improve the customer experience by streamlining discovery. Customers will be able to pick up teas, smell them and read about the ingredients they contain.

“That is something very experiential, that puts the loose leaf tea in the customer’s hands versus waiting at a counter and waiting for us to take the tea down,” said Sabral. “It’s very sensory, it’s very discovery-based and you can pick up pre-packed in a tin to go, which makes it a lot faster and easier for the customer.”

Both the new solution and store format help DAVIDsTEA optimize the in-store experience and maximize the potential for conversions. It’s impossible for Tea Guides to share every tea with any given customer, but keeping associates’ knowledge sharp can help them find the perfect selection.

“When a customer walks in, what you can really share with them depends on how long that customer stays,” said Sabral. “If that’s 20 minutes, you could probably share with them about 20 teas. You’re never going to show them [all] 120.”

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