Clienteling and the future of retail
Retail Clienteling Software
What is retail clienteling software?
How do you get someone to want to shop at your store? You can’t stock the right products for everyone, and you can’t just lower all your prices to stand out as the cheapest option. So what can you do? How can you make sure a visit to your store isn’t just a chore or errand, but an enjoyable and rewarding experience? In other words, how can you improve the overall customer experience in your retail store?
The answer is something called clienteling. Clienteling involves learning as much about individual customers as possible in order to discover, catalog, and cater to their unique needs and interests. Today, businesses of all kinds, from the biggest retail chains to single-store specialty shops engage in clienteling in some form, and gathering this data is becoming more important for moving from a channel-centric to a customer-centric business model.
So why is clienteling important? What’s all this information for? You can’t suit the preferences of every individual customer. You can, however, provide opportunities for personalized marketing and brand engagement which help customers discover products they like, apply discounts and coupons, and generally have a smoother and more enjoyable shopping experience. If you can do this well, it means you customers will shop with you more often and make more purchases: Churn is reduced and retention rates are improved. Clienteling is, thus, a way to get to know customers in order to build loyalty and customer lifetime value.
This may seem simple, but getting all that data and figuring out what to do with it is a complex process. Some bigger stores may claim thousands or even tens of thousands of customers, and figuring out what each of them need, like, and want is a monumental task. This is why retail clienteling software was developed. These tools and programs can handle the huge amounts of data storage and analysis required to make the whole system work smoothly and effectively.
With this technology, it’s never been easier to connect with customers and build shopping experiences that keep them coming back again and again.
Good clienteling software needs to be able to handle tons of information with ease and be smart enough to help you understand your customers and discover opportunities to improve marketing effectiveness and grow lifetime value.
Luckily, there is no need for you to write the code yourself. Many companies today, including customer data platforms (CDPs) like Lexer, offer their own advanced clienteling app and tool suites for a small subscription fee. Once the software is set up on company devices and your staff goes through the proper clienteling training to learn how to use it, you’ll be ready to start exploring what makes customers tick.
There are many companies out there with great software. The Salesforce clienteling app, Cuebic digital marketing package, and Rubikloud intelligent demand forecaster are all versatile and powerful tools which can revolutionize the way any business operates. Lexer is especially notable for its coverage of all aspects of the clienteling process and native tools to support every team and customer touchpoint, including marketing, retail, and service. From data collection to storage to analysis to visualization, for every challenge and business type, Lexer has a CDP-powered solution that is guaranteed to help you acquire more high-value customers, convert one-time buyers into repeat purchasers, and more.
Even with all the options out there, however, it’s important to realize that every business has different needs, and it may take time to choose the right CDP vendor with the right tools. But once you do, you’re guaranteed to see a difference.
The tools used for clienteling are numerous. They can be highly specialized, focusing on one unique customer metric, or versatile and adaptable, able to look at the big picture and track customer behavior against core business KPIs. Even so, every CDP-powered clienteling tool will fall into one of four categories: data collection, unification, analysis, and activation.
The most common variety of clienteling tools deals with collecting data. Obtaining information about customer preferences and behaviors is what makes it possible to understand and cater to their needs. Collection tools can be automated web programs, POS add-ons, spreadsheet applications, or customer surveys to collect zero-party data and customer satisfaction data like the NPS Score. Their general goal is to collect as much info as possible from as many platforms about what, when, where, and how much customers are buying.
The second category is integrating your customer data into a single customer view. All the data you’ve gathered has to be put somewhere and in some sort of order. The most common way of doing this is with a CDP or customer data platform. The CDP is composed of thousands of unique customer profiles, combining all the available data about each individual shopper from various retail and marketing systems. This way, any new info can be easily organized and all the data on a specific customer can be quickly called up and viewed together for fast customer insights.
Lastly comes customer data analytics. To really understand what customers want and how to deliver it to them, you’ll need to look at the data with a computer’s eye. These intelligence programs will help you visualize trends in consumer behaviors and offer clienteling tips and strategies to respond to them. Lexer, for example, provides predictive analytics and strategic recommendations for engaging with customers effectively. These tools are the key factor in turning all your collected data into profit.
But profit and revenue growth aren’t the only benefits of a CDP-powered clienteling tool. Click here to learn more about measuring the impact of a customer data platform (CDP).
Customer service experience
So what does all this data and archiving and monitoring do for the customer? How is the customer service experience transformed and improved through clienteling?
Clienteling maximizes the amount of personalization that can be introduced into the customer shopping journey. They can be targeted with paid social ads for prospecting, shown products they’re interested in, and assisted in meaningful ways by employees. This personalization makes customers feel like a store is there to fulfil their needs. It understands what they like and is quick and efficient in providing it.
The quicker and easier you can make the shopping experience, the more customers are going to repeat it. The more effectively a business can predict when, what, and where a customer is going to buy, the more trust and confidence they will have in that business. Trust, confidence, and above all enthusiasm are vital for building loyalty, and loyalty means customers recommend your business to people they know. When those acquaintances come in to shop, their browsing and buying generates new data. This becomes the seed for a new set of CDP profiles and the cycle begins again.
In short, listening to and working for the satisfaction of one customer means more customers for your business in the future. Regardless of the line of business you’re in, a large base of enthusiastic shoppers can only mean popularity and profit.
To get a better sense of what clienteling means both for customers and businesses in the real world, some retail clienteling examples may be helpful.
Automated clienteling programs can keep track of the items that visitors to an online store look at. When they return to the site next time, these products will then be displayed on the home page. Being shown these items repeatedly can help remind customers to make necessary purchases and prompt them to buy things they were on the fence about before.
If your POS system can identify customers at checkout, employees are able to take steps to promote loyalty. They can offer coupons or vouchers for future use, sign customers up for rewards programs or newsletters, and mention new or related items that might interest them. All these things give incentive for customers to visit and purchase again in the future.
Some retailers will offer specialty consultations. This is especially common with tech, outerwear, and automotive retailers. Appointment systems allow employees to read up on the wants and needs of customers before they arrive. When they show up, they’ll be given VIP treatment and led to make the right purchase which will keep them coming back again and again.
For example, Shoes & Sox, a part of the Brand Collective group, offered digital fit appointments to engage customers online during the pandemic. Click here to learn more.
These clienteling examples are just the tip of the iceberg, but give an idea of the difference data can make for both buyer and business.
Collecting as much data as possible on as many people as possible is one of the core clienteling best practices. However, providing a personalized and memorable experience to everyone who visits your store demands a lot of time and resources. This means the best clienteling strategies depend on allotting those resources intelligently.
Clienteling software is able to track how often a customer shops your store and how much they purchase each time they visit. Regulars and heavy spenders provide much more income to your business than the average shopper, so these are the people you’ll want to create the most exclusive and personalized experiences for. Premium memberships, one-on-one consulting, deep discounts, and other special privileges should all be reserved for these shoppers.
These perks benefit those who buy the most, but more casual shoppers shouldn’t be cut out of the loop. Ad placement, product recommendations, discounts, and rewards programs are less resource-heavy forms of clienteling and can be made available to all. This creates a system where everyone feels their needs are being met, but customers are incentivized and rewarded for spending more.
This form of tiered customer experience is one of the most basic clienteling skills businesses should learn. What the brackets and rewards are is up to you, but the most effective strategies shouldn’t just gather data, but use it to inspire engagement.
Digital clienteling is the next step in the evolution of marketing and customer service. What was once a game of hit-and-miss has now become a science, helping customers and businesses work together for satisfaction and profit.
Businesses all over the world are now focusing on using first-party, second-party, and third-party customer data to improve. Knowledge about individuals—where, when, and how much they shop—is being used to provide customer service of a quality and on a scale never before possible. In the rapidly changing post-pandemic retail world, being able to provide these kinds of experiences will mean the difference between customer loyalty and indifference—profit and loss.
Clienteling software can serve any type of business and is easy to use. For companies wanting to remain relevant, competitive, and successful as the 2020s continue, the time for action is now.