Consumers today have more power at their fingertips than ever before. For the past few weeks, we’ve been covering the emergence of the omnichannel retail environment and the implications it has on customer experience strategies across a wide range of retail industries.
Now it’s time to dig a bit deeper into what this means at the store level.
It’s clear now that customers aren’t utilizing multiple retail channels one at a time––they’re often using more than one simultaneously. Customers are increasingly utilizing the combination of in-store retail and mobile connectivity as a way to transform the physical retail environment into a showrooming extravaganza.
The scenario usually looks something like this:
- A customer researches a product online with a mobile device or eCommerce platform.
- After finding that a particular retail location is carrying it, they enter the in-store environment to interact with it and confirm it’s actually what they’re looking for.
- The customer pulls out their phone and runs a quick search to see if other retailers are offering it for less money.
- If they can’t find a lower price, they make a purchase. If they do find a lower price, they leave empty handed having used your store as nothing more than a showroom.
This new power of instant product research forces retailers to change in such a way to present their customers with a reason to view the in-store shopping experience as unique and valuable.
One approach gaining traction in the retail world is clienteling. In short, clienteling is a way to optimize in-store customer experience to boost point of sale (POS) transactions while the customer is still in the store, before they feel compelled to leave and seek out competing prices.
Let’s look at the details:
Collecting and analyzing customer data
The backbone of the clienteling approach is real-time data assessment. If you’ve used Google within the past year, you already have some degree of experience in personalized service yourself. Similar to search engines that now gather, store, and analyze your online actions and history to tailor your search results, retailers are beginning to implement similar data analysis processes in order to give sales staff the ability to cater directly to a customer’s unique tastes.
Mark Larson, head of retail at KPMG, has elaborated on the growing trends toward greater service personalization saying,
“Harnessing the vast amounts of customer data they have at their disposal to create unique consumer interactions will be critical, especially as digital sales grow. Clearly the retailers who master the one-to-one customer approach, and who also leverage the full potential of e-and-mobile commerce platforms, will be in a much stronger position to gain wallet share.”
It seems most companies jumping on this customer experience approach are using mobile and online POS data as the means of customer analysis. According to Boston Retail Partners, 52% of retailers plan to implement mobile POS in the next two years.
The link between clienteling and new technology innovation
The possibilities presented by expanding mobile POS technologies could have major impact on the customer experience environment of the future. Already, mPOS tools are giving employees on the floor access to a customer’s buying history in real time when they enter the store.
By combining a purchase history with targeted personal information, it’s possible to create a customer profile with which accurate product recommendations can be made.
2010 saw one of the first major software developments geared toward clienteling with Escalate Retail’s “Escalate Clienteling” iPad app. Created with floor associates in mind, the app made it possible for employees to better answer questions and sync their inventory to the needs of the customer based on a profile of previous purchases.
We’ll continue to cover new developments and research about clienteling and other innovative customer experience approaches as they happen.