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Clienteling in 2017: the future in-store experience?

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Shopping the old fashioned way used to be a “feel good” experience because you likely knew the shop owners and they likely knew you: you got exactly what you wanted because you had received personalized service from a “friend”.

Fast forward to today. That corner store is now part of a large brand. The firendly shop owner has been replaced with impersonal service, long lines, and an overall lack of connection between seller and buyer. Rather than leave with a positive connection to a store or brand, consumers more often walk out frustrated with the wait time, and uninspired by the lackluster experience.

Consumers still crave a personal experience while shopping; they want connection, excitement and spontaneity when committing to their next carry-on suitcase, or sweater or smart phone.

Retailers must learn lessons from the past and leverage one of their most important assets – their physical stores and sales associates. Retailers must make the store the center of the brand experience.

SEE ALSO: Do digital brands need physical stores?

But how? It’s called “Clienteling,” and with advances in mobile technology geared specifically for sales associates, it’s possible and it’s already happening. To understand the concept of Clienteling, just walk into any Apple Store or Nordstrom. These two retailers have mastered the art of Clienteling. While both stores have a dominant online presence, a trip to their physical locations is still something to look forward to.

These retailers have mastered the three main components of a successful Clienteling strategy:

1. Information

Information is power and this is most certainly true in the retail space. How helpful would it be if sales associates had easy access to detailed information about their customers’ personal shopping history? This information could help facilitate engagement between the associate and customer and could assist with recommendations.

Fortunately for retailers, this technology already exists. Sales associate apps now have a “360 degree view” of their customer meaning this personal information is accessible no matter where it was originally generated – from a search on a mobile device, input on a desktop computer or even collected in store.

SEE ALSO: “A new age of personalisation” for Shiseido with MATCHco acquisition

2. Personalized Communication

Store associates can benefit from the functionality inherent in brands’ native apps. These apps, which are being broadly used by shoppers, offer the perfect means of connection between associate and customer. Store associate apps can auto-recommend merchandise based on customers’ past purchases.

Other functionality, such as promotions and loyalty programs, can also be more directly communicated with customers using sales associate apps and the brand’s native app.

3. Seamless Checkout

Recent studies have shown that shoppers will walk away from a purchase after 2-3 minutes of waiting in line.

Retailers can dramatically improve the in-store experience by offering digital checkout options. Recent statistics show that the majority of shoppers are comfortable using digital wallets, such as Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay. Empowering sales associates with the tools to offer seamless, safe and quick checkout for shoppers should no longer be considered a luxury; it should be a necessity.

Well-developed store associate apps are allowing retailers to blend the power and functionality of technology with the personal touch of the corner luggage store. And this is just the beginning, with Amazon Go already offering checkout-free shopping and Sam’s Club Scan & Go mobile app creating a grab-and-go shopping experience. That’s the new future.

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