Clienteling Enriches the In-Store Experience
Customers today expect their retailers to know them. They expect retailers to provide them with omnichannel personalized services based on accumulated, detailed customer profiles and purchase histories. If a retailer can't meet those expectations, shoppers will take their business elsewhere.
Many brick-and-mortar retailers lack a single unified record of customer interactions across all touch points. Instead, most chains run multiple, disparate systems—one for physical point of sales (POS), one for ecommerce, one for order management, and one for customer relationship management. Fragmented customer data means store associates have little to no individual customer insight and so no means of delivering personalized service to shoppers. However, "clienteling," a blending of the digital and physical worlds, is beginning to change all that.
Clienteling enriches the traditional brick-and-mortar in-store service with a combination of CRM and mobile technologies. A CRM solution that captures and consolidates customer interactions across all digital and physical touch points empowers store associates. They can use tablets or other devices to easily access an individual customer's transactional history, the online profile the customer may have created on the store's website, and any product ratings and reviews the customer may have submitted.
With the right CRM system, store associates also have real-time access to a customer's personal information such as their birthday, anniversary dates, and specific demographics. Associates with access to all this rich data can provide a much more personalized service equivalent to a customer's online shopping experience. Retailers can use clienteling to combat declining store sales and showrooming shoppers who use mobile devices to browse competing products and prices.
Global consulting firm PwC believes clienteling will be a make-or-break factor for brick-and-mortar retail success. "The more retailers understand each customer before they walk in the door, the greater chance they have of delivering that positive moment of truth—a personalized, satisfactory buying experience that will keep them coming back for more," PwC said in a 2013 report.
Rather than dealing with strangers from behind a counter, store associates can walk around the store and engage with shoppers based on an understanding of their needs and interests. When CRM and inventory information are connected, associates can also look up inventory for items that may be out of stock or not available in stores and save the sale, ensuring the customer will get the desired product.
Unified CRM can put customer information to work by triggering recommendations based on their store visit and purchase history. These recommendations can be delivered by store associates, a POS device, or a web kiosk that lets shoppers directly interact with a store brand. POS systems tied to CRM solutions can deliver personalized recommendations and discount offers for complementary products to prompt a return in-store visit.
Kiosks are especially useful for engaging "self-servicers" who may not want or need an associate's help, but who do require an enriched shopping experience. With in-store kiosks, customers can easily access their wish lists, read product reviews, and view recommended products and offers that can be tailored to a current store visit or made available across any channel. Offering ordering with home delivery over a kiosk is another effective way to save a sale.
Understanding customers is key to creating a best-in-class in-store shopping experience. Retailers should think about what data they already have on tap about consumers and what information they'd like to collect to augment customer profiles. Retailers should then consider deploying a consolidated CRM system geared toward using all that information to engage with customers in stores and across all channels. With a strong combination of customer data and CRM and mobile technologies in place, retailers will then be able to really 'know' their customers and deliver the personalized services customers require.
Matt Rhodus is the Retail Vertical Marketing Expert for NetSuite, a provider of cloud-based omnichannel software that helps retailers transform commerce by seamlessly connecting every step of the business — e-commerce, POS, CRM, order management, inventory, merchandising, marketing, financials and customer service.