At the core of your customer experience should be a super smooth sales process

The reason why you have to win a potential customer’s trust, if you have something to sell, is that there is no doubt you will gain from the sales transaction, but your potential customer has no such guarantee. They need to trust you to believe that the value you are attaching to the thing you’re selling is genuine. Conversely, when a satisfied customer, who has nothing to gain from enthusing about your product, shares their delight with their friends, it is much easier for those potential customers to believe in its value. That is why no one can sell your products as successfully as your satisfied customers.

However, today the competition in retail is no longer just between the perceived value of one product versus that of another, it is between shopping online and spending at least three hours driving to the town centre, finding parking and possibly a long walk to your store. Luring people out of their homes, where they can shop online in warmth and comfort, means leading them to expect to be delighted in your store. Your satisfied customers’ friends may be persuaded that your product is worth having, but if your customers can’t also share some excitement about their visit to your store, given the alternatives their friends may not feel sufficiently inspired to go and get it.

Providing store associates with access to instant knowledge  

There are many ways of delighting customers in your store. There are many tricks, visual, auditory and even olfactory effects that can enhance the customer experience. You can also engage the intellect, emotions and imagination with interactive experiences that stimulate these senses, and they can be simple yet still effective. A London mobile phone store recently broke the unstoppable social media meme of two girls screaming at a disdainful cat into a triptych spread across three phone screens in their store window. One girl was on the left-hand phone, the other girl was on the middle phone and the cat was on the right-hand phone. But whatever creativity a store puts into their customer’s shopping experience, at the core of it must be a simple process that involves identifying the right product for the customer, locating it in the store or the stockroom and completing the transaction. The quicker and easier this process works for a shopper, the more delighted they will be.

Until fairly recently, identifying a product and locating it in a store depended somewhat on a given store associate’s experience and knowledge of both the retail outlet’s catalogue of products and where each is located on the shop floor and in the stockroom. This situation was fraught with problems. Most obviously new store associates could take a long time and have many customer interactions before being able to offer a smooth, never mind delightful shopping experience. And regardless of experience, a store associate’s knowledge could easily go out of date fast. For example, a product seen by a store associate in the stock room in the morning, could easily, unbeknownst to the store associate, have sold out by the afternoon. Leading the store associate to misinform a customer of the product’s availability, leading to a long wait while they double-check their mistake, and eventually disappoint the customer with confirmation that they were wrong.

Similarly, not long ago a customer could easily encounter a store associate incapable of understanding their description of a product, or not knowing if the store sold it, or unable to confirm whether it was currently in stock. At best a customer could frequently experience tedious delays waiting for a seasoned sales associate to locate a product or check the stockroom for it.

A modern solution to an age old retail challenge

Contrast that with the situation today, that is if a retailer has invested in the right Clienteling tool. Now a customer can enter a store and be greeted by a store associate, in their first week on the job, already capable of delivering a first class service. The customer presents the store associate with a picture that a friend posted on social media of some shoes that they recently bought. The store associate reaches for their tablet or smartphone running an app called KIT and uses it to scan the aforementioned picture. An image recognition algorithm identifies the shoes and calls up the page in the electronic store catalogue, giving both the store associate and the customer several illustrations and all the information they might want about the shoes, including whether or not they are in stock.

If the shoes are in stock the store associate can tap a button to request that a runner fetch the shoes. Previously, the customer would have had to wait for the store associate themselves find the shoes, and most people who have ever done that can recall waiting long enough to wonder if the store associate was ever coming back. Now, instead of leaving the customer in limbo, KIT allows the store associate to continue tending to the customer while the shoes are retrieved. KIT further assists by showing the store associate the customer’s purchase history and suggesting another pair of shoes, similar to a pair bought previously, that are now available in several new colours. By the time the shoes the customer came in to buy are in the customer’s hands, KIT may have helped the store associate sell them a second pair.

That isn’t the end of KIT’s usefulness in this customer interaction – it is equipped to let the store associate complete the purchase there and then, saving the customer from time waiting in line at a checkout. Thus a process that once could have taken half an hour and still failed to produce the shoes the customer was looking for, can be reduced to several minutes of quick and easy sales support, with unexpected delights thrown in. Even if the shoes the customer came in to find were not in stock, KIT would have been able to locate them in another store and help the store associate complete the purchase with various fulfilment options – pick them up from either store or have them delivered.

Any data your store holds in electronic form that can help a store associate provide sales assistance or complete a transaction can be surfaced in KIT, enabling store associates to personalise their customer interactions and ensure that not only are customers’ purchasing needs met but that their experience is satisfyingly smooth, efficient and convenient. The kind they would rave about to their friends.

It is easy to arrange a demonstration of the software with the KIT team. They will also be happy to simply answer questions or give you the information you need to decide if you are ready for a demonstration. They can be reached on +44 203 691 2936 and by email at info@instore.technology, or if you prefer you can also complete the short form on this website’s Contact page.

KIT at National Retail Federation 2020

The KIT team will be making their annual pilgrimage to New York City for NRF 2020: Retail’s Big Show, meeting with new and existing clients at Booth #4125. For the fourth year in succession, the team will be showcasing the KIT product portfolio and sharing exciting new product developments at the Annual Convention & EXPO – NRF’s flagship event, and the world’s largest Retail Conference and Expo, which runs from 11 – 14 January 2020, hosted at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

KIT has been successfully deployed in prestigious luxury fashion houses and stores such as Holt Renfrew, a chain of high-end Canadian department stores specialising in luxury brands and a global retail fashion retailer. As a result, KIT is now being used daily by 1000’s of store associates worldwide from Europe to Asia to North America. In attendance at this year’s event will be Keytree Director Andrew Miller and Adrian Slater, Head of Retail at Keytree.

Showcasing KIT 

KIT will be demonstrating what it takes for companies to create a personalised end-to-end Omni-channel experience for customers. Visitors to the KIT stand will be treated to an interactive experience that reimagines the store experience for store associates, management and customers alike ensuring the interactions are as remarkable as possible. Demo’s will show how KIT puts the store associate at the heart of the customer’s journey with a blending of digital and physical interactions.

National Retail Federation 

NRF 2020 is the worlds largest retail conference, accommodating over 38,000 visitors, 16,000 retailers and more than 800 exhibitors. The three-day event aims to bring together ideas and relationships, and help attendees forge new partnerships. The National Retail Federation (NRF) is the world’s largest retail trade association. Its members include department stores, speciality, discount, catalogue, internet and independent retailers, chain restaurants and grocery stores.

Putting the right Clienteling App in the hands of the Store Associate is the key to driving sales

One way or another, once it had been invented, the telephone would have caught on. However, many of the things that we consider indispensable, now that we know how useful they are, were not immediately recognised for their potential value when they first appeared, and the telephone is no exception. It was the news of the vital role that the telephone played, in 1878, in helping to round up doctors and bring them to the scene of a massive train accident in Tariffville, Connecticut, which proved the concept of this new technology to a pre-telephone society, that had managed perfectly well thus far with the telegram being the most advanced communication tool available.

But despite having proved its worth, and being an incredibly powerful tool that has subsequently changed the world, from its earliest days the telephone has had its weaknesses. Crossed lines, eavesdroppers, abusive callers, and most recently robocalls – a problem so bad that, as The Washington Post reports on a survey by Hiya, many people are “simply choosing not to answer the phone altogether”.

In the light of this understanding of the telephone, which, despite its weaknesses, very few adults in the world would dream of being without in one form or another, this blog post is going to look at the trouble you could run into if you put a Clienteling app in the hands of a store associate. Just to be clear, we highly recommend putting a Clienteling app in the hands of all of your store associates, but we want to educate you about the potential dangers, so you are prepared to deal with them and are better able to make the most of this exciting new technology.

Clienteling and the store associate – the need to embrace change

First and foremost, changing the culture of any business takes a lot of communication and more time than most of us would like it to. That’s why relying too heavily on static company-wide communications to introduce any change to a workplace, especially new ways of working, is likely to result in poor absorption of the information and poor adoption of the new methodology. When new tools and approaches are introduced to a workplace, to embed those things in its company culture, a business needs to provide team briefings, training, feedback loops and support. Otherwise, even simple comprehension of what the new change is and what it is for will likely be too low for it to take hold and be effective.

But even more important is the fact that people vary in how well they adapt to change. Some people lap up change and some are very resistant to it so for this reason, any change in company practice needs to find someone who will champion the change to those who greet it with wariness or even hostility. Someone in the company who not only shows enthusiasm for the brave new world but who is understood to be available for support in making sense of the what, where, when, why and how of it.

In other words, simply presenting store associates with a new Clienteling app, without providing sufficient support and encouragement along with it, will probably result in worse sales performances, not better ones. For example, if a store associate is not convinced that the new app will make it easier to do or perform well in their job, they will likely either resent using it or refuse to – both of which will impact negatively on the customer experience that the app is intended to improve.

Introducing and embedding KIT into your workforce

Picture a customer greeted by a store associate who is not enthusiastic about the new Clienteling app, so has not learned of the many useful functions it has. The store associate may not even know that the app enables them to search the stock of a product in another store and complete a sale there and then. It could take the store associate so long to figure out how to accomplish this task with that the wholly unimpressed customer runs out of patience and leaves without making the purchase they would have made if the app designed to enhance customer service had been slick and effective.

Conversely, imagine a store associate who loves the new Clienteling app so much that, in their excitement over what it can do, they fail to listen to guidance on how to use the direct communication features of the app, resulting in doing more harm than good.

One of the most useful applications of a Clienteling app is to personalise the shopping experience for customers, which is of huge value in bricks and mortar retail, where competing with the convenience of online shopping means offering the added value that you can’t find online. Furthermore, one of the best ways of personalising the shopping experience for a customer is to communicate directly with them, via a Clienteling app, with news of a new product or discount that has just been announced. However, if all the messages a store associate ever sends a customer are about products and offers, or if a store associate is not dynamically responsive to the communications they receive from a customer, then those store associates are not providing a valuable, personalised shopping experience, they are subjecting that customer to spam. And instead of those store associates building stronger brand loyalty using the Clienteling app, they will be weakening it.

Potential problems for a brand can also occur even if ten store associates are doing nothing particularly bad in the way they use the direct communication function of a Clienteling app if there has been an insufficient setting of a standard to follow. The result will be sub-optimal brand consistency.

Of course, any useful tool can be mishandled. In the wrong or the uneducated hands, a simple hammer could be used destructively. In the right hands, attached to a person who knows how to hit the nail and not their thumb, the hammer can be used to build palaces. Similarly, with the right support, Clienteling apps like KIT can be incredibly helpful as a tool for both Clienteling and assisted selling. While designed to be very easy to use, KIT is multifaceted and dynamic – new information about products, stock and customers can be added all the time, so it helps all store associates who have been given a tablet with KIT installed on it, if they receive excellent support in practising with and making the most of it.

To help set you off on the right foot with KIT, we recommend inviting the most technologically friendly or innovation-oriented of your store associates to join you for a demonstration of the app with our team. That way your store associates can help you to create a buzz to introduce KIT to your retail business. Demonstrations of KIT can be arranged by contacting the helpful KIT team on +44 203 691 2936. You can also email info@instore.technology with any questions or to request more information, or if you prefer you can also complete the short form on our Contact page.

What’s next for the in-store experience?

Luring shoppers away from the comfort and convenience of their online shopping basket has been the challenge of the century for bricks and mortar retailers. And now, with Amazon, who already claim half of all retail sales in the US, introducing a new Augmented Reality function to help shoppers visualise products in their home before they buy them, the challenge is just got tougher.

Doubtless, you know of at least one example of a creative if not radical solution implemented by a high street store to create an extraordinary in-store experience worth leaving the house for. Sometimes these experiences, ranging from treasure hunts to immersive theatre, are only very tenuously connected to the products and shopping opportunities offered by the stores that host them, but some are squarely on brand. In its central London store, The House of Vans, a skateboarding and BMX fashion retailer, has installed a cinema, café, live music venue and art gallery, with its piece de resistance in the basement, in the form of a fully functional skateboard/bike park.

However, on brand or not, not every retailer has the resources to add multiple new functions to their store, and even those that do are likely to have to limit this approach to their flagship branch. The question of what’s really, practically going to dictate the future of the in-store experience, for both retailers and shoppers, is one that was at the heart of the National Retail Federation’s NXT meeting in July 2019. It turns out that extraordinary store experiences were only one of the three answers they presented. The other two were data and digital marketing. Furthermore, they are the ones that are going to tell you what is going to make for an extraordinary store experience.

Being a high street retailer can seem like a huge disadvantage when you are competing with online stores, because online stores can be accessed by anyone from anywhere, including from inside a high street store. However, online retailers would kill for the quality of data you can capture with a shopper standing in front of you, where you can hold a conversation with them and be responsive in real-time to the information you take in.

The evolution of websites no match for direct contact with the customer

Websites may have evolved the ability to carry out sophisticated behaviour analysis using heatmaps and other user data, but they cannot directly observe their shoppers and modify their approach to better suit the dynamic of each individual, or successfully judge if now is the right time to ask for information that will improve how you connect with them as a brand. These kinds of interactions are not everyone’s forte, but for those who can master them, they can provide far richer data about a customer’s shopping needs than you can get from analysing the same person’s mouse movements and clicks on a website. If you want to know if the changes you are making to your customer experience online are working you can ask your visitors. A retail associate’s observation of a shopper in a high street store could give you a far more accurate, real-time feedback on the success or failure of the customer experience.

Digital marketing and data are closely linked because what makes digital marketing so powerful compared with traditional marketing is the scope it provides to analyse its impact and the speed with which that can be done. When trying to measure the impact of an advert on TV or in a magazine, the two best measures used to be: how many people saw it and, if possible, how many people called the telephone number given in the ad.

Whatever the form of your digital marketing – email, blog, video, banner, pop-up, it is relatively easy to A/B test different options that with old marketing media you would simply have had to commit. Now you can change words, colours and images in marketing, making sure that you can identify which version of which marketing asset a person saw when they answered a call to action (clicking, completing a form, printing a coupon) and get real data as to which marketing effort had the most impact.

This is critical because for most customers in the high street their experience begins with an exposure to digital marketing. It is also critical that the experience offered in-store is looked at holistically alongside the digital marketing effort so that there is congruence between all the digital marketing touchpoints leading to the high street store and the physical space of that same brand.

KIT – helping brands capture real usable data

One way of achieving that is with KIT, which runs on an iPad or Android tablet, and can be adapted to fit any retail brand. KIT is a tool that works at the intersection of all three of the answers offered by the NRF’s NXT meeting. Using customer profiles, it captures incredibly useful data to help the brand improve its customer experience. By linking to the brand’s website it integrates with other digital marketing efforts and powers digital marketing by providing store associates with various means to message customers directly. Finally, there are numerous ways KIT can be used as part of the shopping experience. It can help to locate particular products, both in the catalogue and the store. It can be used to compare products or help educate customers about products. And it can be used to close a sale when otherwise a customer would have a much longer process to follow and run the risk of not completing the purchase.

It is also worth noting that while the assisted selling features of KIT can rescue a retailer from putting too much thought into the frills and not enough into the nuts and bolts of selling stuff to all its customers, KIT can also help with a particular category of shopper, identified in a paper written in April 2018, titled: Selling the Extraordinary Experiential Retail Stores – who will feel particularly let down if she or he can’t make their purchase with a minimum of fuss. 

That is to say, as important as it is for retail stores to think about the customer experience and how to make it rock, they must also understand that broadly speaking, shoppers come in two forms. The ones who do planned, task focussed shopping and those who are more spontaneous and open to being entertained. As well as helping immerse the spontaneous, entertainment-oriented shoppers in the brand and its products, KIT can be the perfect tool for a store associate who needs to help a task focussed shopper transcend the distraction of the entertainment, to simply execute their task. Thus, instead of leaving frustrated because they were not interested in trying a face mask made from Koala droppings, task focussed customers can be made grateful that your store understood and catered to their individual needs.

To learn more about how KIT can form part of your data-driven, digital marketing integrated, extraordinary customer experience, just contact the KIT team on +44 203 691 2936. They will be very happy to answer any questions and schedule a demonstration. You can also email info@instore.technology with any questions or to request more information, or if you prefer you can also complete the short form on our Contact page.

What customers expect from their experience on the high street

If you have worked in retail today, for any length of time, you know about the importance of the customer experience. However, with so many different ideas floating around about what the customer experience is and how to provide it, you could be forgiven for not being very clear about either of those things. For some, designing the customer experience means a floor to ceiling refit of the store to create an entirely different space or ambience. For others, it is about offering an experience that is both appealing and not what you would traditionally expect from a retailer.

For example, this summer, Showfields, a retailer in New York, launched ‘an immersive theatre experience that bridges art and retail,’ which customers begin by going down a black-and-white striped slide. From there actors guide shoppers through a surreal combination of art gallery and product demonstrations, which concludes in a space called ‘The Lab’, where guests can buy the products they’ve seen on the tour.

As these kinds of examples are being set by peers, for too many retailers, focusing on the customer experience means missing the point. As Retail Prophet, Doug Stephens puts it in his blog post: ‘Why Retail Is Getting “Experience” Wrong‘ – “Most retailers assume customer experience is primarily an aesthetic concept and more about how stores look and feel. Other retailers assume that customer experience simply means better, friendlier or more personalised service. Thus they invest in recruiting and training, and work harder to capture data about their clientele.”

Understanding the customer experience

The efforts of retailers who think this way will almost inevitably fail because they haven’t understood the task at hand. Doug goes on to explain: “True customer experience design means deconstructing the entire customer journey into its smallest component parts and then reengineering each component to look, feel and most importantly, operate differently than before and distinctly from competitors.”

Why is it that retailers struggle to understand this? It is the same reason why most people couldn’t describe the dynamics that make one story good and another one bad, but they can tell when they hear a good story and when they hear a bad one. They haven’t thought about it for long enough or been taught by someone who truly understands it and therefore is probably no coincidence that when you do think about it, you can see very similar dynamics at work in both a great story and a great customer experience.

A great story engages all five senses of the world where it takes place – sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. As the saying goes, people may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel. The same is true of retail experience. A story worth listening to is one that transports you to another world. And because the characters who live there inhabit such a different world from yours, when you feel empathy for them they lift you out of the forest where you live and can no longer see the trees, and allow you see again. The products you are looking at in a store that has redesigned its customer experience may be similar to a thousand others you have seen, but when they are presented in a completely different light from every other store you’ve seen them in, you can see and feel them anew.

Some stories deliberately make it harder for their audience to relate to their heroes, and typically those stories develop a cult following from the few who love them. But most stories aim to tell stories about protagonists the audience can relate to fairly easily in a very deep way. You know when a story has succeeded in presenting you with such a protagonist because you enjoy and look forward to the time you spend with them. This is what a personalised store experience is all about – making a customer feel seen, happy to visit, glad they came and eager for the next chapter.

A great story surprises its audience, by knowing what they expect and delivering something different. A twist in the tale or a subversion of expectations at each turning point in a story is far more satisfying than a ‘jack-in-the-box’, which is a surprise with no particular logical or emotional connection to what led up to it. It also works in retail. Expectations are deeply ingrained in shoppers but there are many ways to deliver unexpected and delightful surprises all along the customer journey.

While amazing stories are not formulaic, great writers can bring us back to new episodes of stories and repeatedly deliver, with necessary variations, what we have come to expect from the world in which these stories are set. It is just as vital that a customer, returning to a store that has mastered its customer experience as described above, is offered a similar quality, though not a cookie-cutter copy of the experience they have had and loved before. So far so ideal, and in his blog, Doug Stephens makes a valid point that simply handing a retail associate a tablet and expecting the customer experience to hit new heights of excellence is naive at best.

He also points out that achieving this level of customer experience is not easy, and even when you get there, if you are armed with a tablet that gives you a live view of every product available in that store at that precise moment, you probably have the most valuable thing you need to delight a customer who neither has the time nor the patience to jump on a black and white slide before embarking on a 20-minute tour that ends in the gift shop. There’s every reason to use your imagination and creativity to make every one of your customer’s experiences compel them to return, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of some basic relationship management activities that foster an authentic connection between your retail associates and your customers. Furthermore, with the right app on that tablet, you can make that relationship management easier.

Arrange a free demo of KIT

KIT is the ideal solution for retailers looking to equip their store associates with a tool that makes it easier to personalise a customer’s experience so they look forward to returning again and again. The most helpful thing KIT can do in the first interaction may be to quickly connect a customer with the right product, but building on that success KIT can help store associates to accumulate data that helps them and the brand build a relationship with that customer. The longer and stronger that relationship, the better the chances of increasing the lifetime value of that customer.

KIT includes a range of assisted selling tools to help customers find, evaluate and compare products, then complete the sale – taking the pain out of shopping for even the most retail-unfriendly of customers. After that, records of the customer kept automatically through sales and interactions with the brand on other channels can be added to manually, which means a store associate doesn’t have to memorise the granular details of a multitude of customers who only visit the store once a month or less. Being able to easily access this information helps a store associate make a customer feel far more cared for than they would otherwise be able to.

As part of a conscious revolution in your thinking about what customers expect from their experience on the high street, introducing KIT should not be the only change you make, but it can be a powerful performance enhancer. And the challenge of igniting and leading your customer experience revolution should not be underestimated, but by way of contrast, it takes very little effort to arrange a demonstration of KIT. Simply contact the KIT team on +44 203 691 2936 and they will be happy to assist. You can also email info@instore.technology with any questions or to request more information, or if you prefer you can also complete the short form on our Contact page.

Using customer data to drive customer loyalty and sales

Data comes in many forms. It tends to get divided into quantitative and qualitative, although it can be more helpful to think about the quality of the data, whatever kind it is because that’s what determines how useful it is. Good quality data is robust and unequivocal, for example, if a customer spent X amount with a certain retailer over a period of time, that’s a simple, no denying it, fact.

If a customer buys shoes 90% of the time they shop with a particular retailer, that’s also an indisputable fact. But poor quality data is ambiguous or open to misinterpretation. For example, if you ask anyone what they would do in a set of hypothetical circumstances relating to a product or brand, your data tells you what people think they would do, it doesn’t tell you what they would do. This means that quantitative data is often better quality data, but it isn’t as simple as that either.

Customers asked to rate their satisfaction with a purchase using a number between 1 and 5 will not necessarily answer consistently despite how well they are instructed. One customer may feel perfectly satisfied and rate their experience as a 5. Another customer may feel similarly satisfied by their experience but may also believe in reserving top marks for an extraordinarily satisfying experience. The data may be recorded as quantitative, but it is not as robust a reflection of reality as data showing how much a customer spent over time.

Conversely, qualitative data that is a record of customers’ written feedback may provide a more accurate picture of each of the above customers’ level of satisfaction. This data isn’t as easy to search through if you have thousands of customers, but when you are looking at records relating to individuals, it can provide the vital details that complete a story suggested by other more easily searchable data.

Capturing meaningful customer data

Capturing good quality data about your customers is a gift that keeps on giving because quality data about recent activity can be useful both as soon as it is captured and long into the future as a means of comparison against new data. In other words, the more of the same data you can capture over time, the more easily you can distinguish patterns in that data. For example, the longer you record customers spend in your store, the clearer the pattern of his or her purchasing behaviour. It may take a while, with a customer who only makes a purchase every few months, for their purchasing behaviour to show a pattern, but when it does and it tells you what that customer is interested in then you can more effectively target that customer with products or services you know will appeal to them.

Another benefit from capturing data about a customer’s purchasing behaviour over a long period is it gives you the ability to spot deviations from the norm. For example, a customer’s monthly spend might suddenly go up or down, or the frequency with which they purchase shoes might rise or fall. While, on its own, data like this will probably not be enough to establish the underlying reasons for changes in a pattern of purchasing behaviour, it can be enough to guide further enquiry through conversation with a customer. When a retail associate learns what has changed for a customer this information can be used to improve their retail experience with your brand, making them feel more seen, more cared for, more satisfied and more loyal to your brand. However, no one will know to ask what has changed without an indication from other data to prompt the question.

Meanwhile, triangulating records of which branch a customer makes which purchases in, with social media posts containing photos of the customer and their mother, in which the brand is hashtagged, can inform a retailer that twice a year a customer visits their mother and takes her out shopping. Armed with that data, various options open up to the retail associates of that store to enhance and personalise that shopping experience, promoting sales and brand loyalty. There are many layers of data you can capture about a customer, within which you can then search for insights to help you to personalise their experience with your brand. There’s a lot of data you can collect about your customers’ relationship with your product or service. Such as when, what and on what did a customer-first spend with you? For some retailers, this alone has proven to be a big predictor of future behaviour, though it won’t always be.

Additionally, how much does a customer spend per shop, how much over time, how frequently over time and in what locations? What type of product is a customer most interested in, do they favour design or function, beta products or more fully developed, the latest fashion of end of line bargains? There’s also data you can capture that is more to do with a customer’s relationship with the brand. What is their preferred contact method, how do they like to be addressed, what is their contact history, have they provided feedback before – was it good or bad, do they follow or have they mentioned the brand on social media?

Finally, there’s data you can capture that helps store associates build a truly personal interaction with your customers, and avoid making every conversation about the brand or its products. What is their favourite colour, favourite music, pet’s name, job title?

To help store associates make the most of available customer data, KIT can create individual profiles for each customer, to record information captured at different ‘touchpoints’ in their journey to and beyond every sale. This includes products viewed or favourited online, as well as information added by the store associate. Using insights from this data, store associates are in a much stronger position to create deep engagement with these customers, nurturing customer loyalty and driving sales.

Easy to pick up, store and retrieve data on, KIT is the perfect tool for the modern store associate. It can also be used as an assisted selling tool, providing illustrations and information about products that allow the customer to feel in control of their research and choices, while the store associate plays the role of assistant. For more information about KIT and to arrange a full demonstration, please contact the team on +44 203 691 2936. You can also email info@instore.technology with any questions or to request more information, or if you prefer you can also complete the short form on our Contact page.

Enable your store associates before they enable themselves

Long before the advent of the computer, the trick to outperforming your competition in retail sales was to keep a notebook in which you would record information about clients, including but not limited to their purchasing history. Armed with a repository of information bigger than anyone could be expected to simply remember, you could improve your interactions with customers, making them feel well known and understood, and thus provide a more personal and satisfying shopping experience. While the art itself predates the term Clienteling by a considerable margin – this is the art of Clienteling.

Today, with technological innovations, the state of the art has moved forward – paper notebooks have been replaced by apps that make information about customers even easier to record, organise and recall. But new technology like this always raises a question about the need for it. The argument goes that if we have survived without it so far, why do we need it now? Is it essential or would it just be nice to have?

The answer is that your store associates can manage without it, but there’s obviously a difference between managing and prospering. Do you want your store associates to just survive or do you want them to thrive?

More than a mark in a little black book

Furthermore, if you don’t provide your store associates with cutting edge Clienteling tools, and if you’ve hired the right people, they will improvise their own approach using their own devices. The result of that is losing both useful data and brand-building opportunities. Instead of capturing information that could help you target customers more successfully, it will be inaccessible to you. And when a customer receives communication from a store associate on one of their personal channels, that is likely to strengthen their connection to the store associate’s personal brand, more than it strengthens their connection to the brand of your store.

Before the days of internet shopping, when a high streets’ biggest competition was other high streets, and you could expect more people to be walking past and walking into your store, the average store associate was under less pressure to go beyond asking a customer: “Do you need any help?” Indeed, there was a time for some store associates when it was advantageous to minimise the time they spent with any single customer, to push as many customers over the line of a sale as possible.

However, today the high street is in fierce competition with the internet, and store associates have a much more critical role to play – they are the best weapon a retailer has to entice customers out of their homes and to maintain a connection with them when they are not visiting the store. And that’s one of the ways in which a simple notebook is not enough anymore, which is why store associates looking to succeed need something more powerful and more dynamic and they’ll be compelled to build their own solution if they have to. Fortunately, they don’t have to. Thanks to some clever people at Keytree who developed KIT to usher in a new era of Clienteling excellence.

KIT is a product catalogue, notebook, communications centre, personal assistant and style consultant rolled into one, easy to use application. It not only helps a store associate record information and history about customers, enhancing their ability to connect with them – it helps store associates identify and present customers with suggestions for products that might also be of interest plus promotions which they are likely to find appealing.

KIT facilitates communication with customers when they are not actually in the store, which is recorded in the customer’s profile to support excellent customer relationship management. It helps new store associates hit the ground running and takes the Clienteling of experienced retail professionals to the next level.

For a detailed tour of KIT and the ways it can assist your store associates in elevating the experience they offer your customers just give the team a call on +44 203 691 2936, email info@instore.technology or complete the short form on our Contact page.

Personal attention is the lifeblood of Clienteling, and there is no app for that

In order to build the KIT Clienteling app, and make it rock the world of store associates, Keytree worked closely with a top international luxury retail brand, to understand the business of retail and produce a truly helpful user experience. The result is a high-performance Clienteling app, used by over 10,000 store associates in 64 countries around the world, in 12 languages. It offers a host of customer engagement features and continues to evolve but it will never replace the most vital component of successful Clienteling – personal attention.

Now, the hard limit of an app may seem like an odd thing for its developer to highlight, but we’re doing it for several reasons. For one thing, it’s true, and authenticity is a precious commodity in the world today. For another, passionate store associates are the unsung heroes of Clienteling and we want to make it clear that we understand that. But most of all, you cannot get the most out of any tool unless you know where its power ends and where what you need to put into it begins. The bicycle is a brilliant piece of technology that depends upon some significant input and effort from its rider to make it work.

Writing in Luxury Daily, Martin Shanker asked the question: ‘Does magical thinking have you chasing shiny objects?’ at the top of his article dismantling the idea that in industries where superb service is the true key to success, technology can do it for you. His argument is well supported by research. In a paper titled Consumer Behaviour in Shopping Streets: The Importance of the Salesperson’s Professional Personal Attention, researchers reported on a survey in which they had asked shoppers whether they preferred going shopping at a mall or on the high street and why. The aim was to find out, indirectly and without biasing the respondents, whether personal attention is the main motivation for choosing the shopping location. The number one motive for choosing a shopping location (given by over 43% of those surveyed) was shown to be personal attention including polite and courteous attention, advice, individualised attention, personal relationship and service attitude.

Changing the face of customer interaction

KIT is a game-changer because it was specifically designed to enhance the personal attention store associates give their customers, in a variety of ways, both in-store and remotely. This includes having a profile for each customer that keeps a note of which channel of communication each customer prefers. This one feature, which can be used to target customers, using the right channel, with the right messages about products and deals that evidence suggests would interest them, has a lot of potential power. However, as Martin Shanker explains: “At least 25% of follow-up contact needs to be culturally connecting, not stop by the store, I’ve got something for you.” Sales associates need to suggest events, ask about the weekend, and refer to news and local colour that might be relevant to customers’ lives.

Understanding this kind of relationship-building psychology and empathology is key to Clienteling excellence, and we want to make sure users of KIT know this because we want to set up users for success. We don’t want to lead anyone into believing it’s a magic bullet and leave them wondering why it isn’t making a bigger difference.

KIT remains packed with features that can improve the game of any store associate, even in their first week on the job, for example, by helping them to more quickly locate products customers are looking for. KIT also provides store associates, and by extension customers, with more options for completing transactions quickly and easily, resulting in fewer lost sales.

Meanwhile, in the hands of a store associate, skilful at giving personal attention and building relationships, KIT can take their performance to the next level. For example, traditionally, to achieve a higher standard of Clienteling, store associates would keep a record of their knowledge about customers in a book, rather than rely on their memory. Now, with KIT, store associates can record and organise much more data about customers, in a form that is more accessible and usable.

The truth is that most people have strengths and weaknesses in their relationship-building skillset, so most of us have skills we could work on. It can be extremely uncomfortable and difficult to work on the things we aren’t great at doing, but not impossible if we are willing to put the effort in. It is well worth putting in the time to improve your interpersonal skills if you want a career in retail.

The good news is, by contrast, setting up a demonstration of KIT is extremely easy. Just give the team a call on +44 203 691 2936, email info@instore.technology or complete the short form on our Contact page.

Harness the power of patterns to boost your sales

Identifying patterns of customer behaviour in your market is critical to informing your sales and marketing strategy and finding ways to increase sales. In retail, as an obvious example, if a particular product is flying off the shelves, you’ll want to put it in the window. Possibly even after it has sold out. However, not all patterns are easy to see at first. It is harder to notice if customers whose first purchase was a sweater are over three times more likely to buy again in their first 90 days than customers who started by buying in other categories.

While pattern recognition is one of the human mind’s greatest strengths, it is simultaneously one of its greatest weaknesses. The constant vigilance of our subconscious hunt for patterns can be extremely useful in quickly revealing threats and opportunities. However, our pattern recognition is also relatively short-sighted and inclined to propel us into action based on too few data points. We need help to tell which dots should be connected to those that shouldn’t.

While data about macro patterns might be relatively easy for a store associate to access, such as what is trending globally, in a specific country or for a particular brand, it could be harder to know, at a local level, what the patterns are. Socio-economic and cultural differences between customers in one location can vary substantially from those in another location for the same brand just a few miles away. For this reason, the most valuable data is obtained and applied at the coal face, in a particular location, in a particular store.

For example, a men’s clothing store might attract its target audience in one area, but 10 miles away more women may be making more purchases from the same brand, for their partners or family. Being aware of this, and even what is behind it, is important to know because the next thing for a store associate to do with the information about who is buying what in their store, is use it in their Clienteling approach.

The art of Clienteling

Clienteling is the art of personalising the customer experience, by anticipating a customer’s wants and needs and minimising the effort they have to put in to find retail fulfilment. The better a store associate can identify the patterns in groups of customers as well as particular individuals, the better they will be at Clienteling.

Fortunately for retail associates, help with both pattern recognition and Clienteling is now available in the form of KIT (Keytree In-store Technology) an app which is, among other things, designed to collect customer data over time and make it easier to identify patterns and trends in individual customers’ behaviour as well as across customer segments. By recording purchasing history, both online and in-store, as well as basic demographics and other details that are available, KIT makes it easier to notice patterns in purchasing behaviour across ages, genders, interests and other profile characteristics. It then makes it easier for retail associates to communicate with customers and present each one with the opportunities they are most likely to find attractive.

As well as providing the micro view of what an individual customer likes by way of products and customer experience, KIT also helps store associates locate and complete purchases for products both in-store and available elsewhere, all of which takes the friction out of shopping, provides a great Clienteling experience, which in turn promotes brand loyalty, return visits and more sales.

KIT was built collaboratively with experts in retail and is designed to be so easy to use that a store associate can hand a tablet running the app to a customer, to give them the freedom to search and browse stock for the products they need. There are over 10,000 sales associates in 64 countries worldwide currently using KIT to assist them in both basic sales and clienteling. The app is available in 12 languages and it’s easy to arrange a demonstration to see how it could work for you. Just call +44 203 691 2936, email info@instore.technology or complete the short form on our Contact page.

KIT Clienteling helps capture the requisite data needed to ensure Store Associate success

As much as people like to believe their purchasing decisions are more rational than emotional, sales are often based more upon how a customer feels than how good a fit is a product or service. Those feelings will have something to do with the products or services being purchased of course, but they also have a lot to do with feelings towards the retailer. So it behoves retailers to build strong relationships with their customers and the best way to do that, is to get to know them, individually. This is the reason why Clienteling, the art of personalising customer experiences, is one sales associates should adopt.

One of the biggest challenges with getting to know someone is ensuring that you start off on the right foot – quickly identifying who you are talking to really helps but there are many different ways of doing that. It helps to adjust your conversation to relate better to the customer you’re talking to based on age or where they come from, but this can be tricky as looks can often be deceiving. It is safer much easier to use the information given to you from the customer – rather than make an assumption based on superficial impressions. The more data you possess about a person, the more accurate your picture of who they are. Nonetheless, figuring out as much as you can, quickly, is still an advantage.

Understanding the personality traits of a customer

Fortunately, people have been studying human psychology for a while now, and a sort of consensus has been reached about the different personality types a sales associate should be familiar with, to help them quickly understand how best to approach the customer they have only just met. Although more types have been suggested, most of the customer personality models describe four. You’ll see them called different things in different places, but whatever they’re called, more or less the same four types of personalities are described by all of them.

There’s the thinker or owl, who wants to do thorough research before making a purchase. There’s the dominator or rhino, who can sometimes appear rude or aggressive when they don’t mean to, they simply want to cut to the chase as fast as possible. There’s the influencer/follower, who wants to be a trendsetter, to have the latest thing, but also does not want to be left out, so has the trend following tendencies too. Finally, there’s the relator or love bird, who is caring, loyal, open, wants to get to know you and wants you to get to know them. Doing a little research into these four personality types is well worth the investment for store associates who want to get each customer relationship off to a good start. For the store associate that wants to go the extra mile, the KIT Clienteling app is at your service.

For the dominator/rhino, KIT helps by providing a fast and clear view of what products are in stock, and what the purchasing options are for products not currently in store – especially helpful for new employees less familiar with the catalogue. For the influencer/follower, KIT helps store associates keep up to date regarding the best sellers and the latest deals. The thinker/owl can be handed a tablet running KIT and invited to take their time browsing a comprehensive catalogue of products, deals and purchasing options. Finally, the relator or lovebird, who may not buy anything on their first visit, will appreciate the value of having their profile set up on KIT, as an investment in their relationship.

With all customer personality types, setting up a profile on KIT and building an increasingly rounded picture of a customer, will help store associates both to maintain the relationship between visits to the store and during visits. As time goes by, more data recorded in KIT provides more insights into the best approach for each customer. Customers may have similar personality types that are important to understand, but individually they have different needs, product preferences, and purchasing habits and KIT helps you develop your understanding of those too.

KIT is currently in use by over 10,000 sales associates, in 64 countries and in 12 languages, and if you would like a demonstration to see how it could work for you, please call us on +44 203 691 2936, email info@instore.technology or complete the short form on our Contact page.

Technology is breathing new life into the physical store

KIT drone thumbnail

One summer evening in the late 90s – Rob Lewis, serial entrepreneur and founder of silicon.com gathered senior editors from the IT and business sector in the main hall at the Natural History Museum and made a bold announcement while throwing their publications in a dustbin. He predicted that magazines and newspapers would become a thing of the past – replaced by online news sites.

The dot-com boom of the 1990s carried many predictions and the group of editors from the publishing house who attended the above event has seen its 40 publications become reduced to three in less than 20 years. But other predictions have had a strange, unpredictable journey.

One of the biggest and boldest prophecies was the doomed high street. In the mid-90s, Jeff Bezos left the canyons of Wall Street and set up shop in Seattle where he created his online bookstore, which has since become the largest internet-based retailer in the world. The birth of Amazon was to many the first nail in the coffin for the physical store – or the newly coined phrase ‘bricks and mortar’. How could the high street compete with buying goods from the comfort of your front room – or at your desk during a lunch break?

Crossover physical digital experiences breathing new life into the highstreets

Fast forward 20 years and many big brands have disappeared from our high street, pulling down the shutters on 1,000s of stores. Despite the variety of channels now available to customers (the omni-channel approach), nine out of ten retail transactions still take place in the store, according to Deloitte’s 2014 research – The New Digital Divide.

It’s not all doom and gloom, and companies are starting to realise the value of having an outlet built of bricks. Amazon has gone full circle and in 2015 opened its first physical store and less than 12 months ago, IKEA announced it would be investing in the high street and opening smaller stores to compliment their 18 out of town facilities.

Focusing on the customer experience

The most valuable ingredient for improving the in-store experience is the knowledge base of the store associate – demonstrating a clear understanding of the product on sale as 40 percent of global shopper’s see this as the number one component of an enjoyable visit to the high street, according to the 2016 Total Retail Survey by PwC.

So by giving staff on the shop floor the ability to stay with the client while accessing inventory including detailed product information, it will instantly improve the in-store experience, but it doesn’t stop there. Having access to customer data will greatly inform decisions made by the store associate – such as understanding the client’s channel preference or the styles that match previous purchases, which will go a long way to ensuring customers return on a regular basis.

Clienteling – retail solutions for the next generation store associate

In store experience

The Keytree In-store Technology (KIT) team has built and designed retail Clienteling solutions via thorough market research activities that continually feed into product development. Clienteling is the term applied to the store associate’s daily routine to establish relationships with customers based on preference, behaviour and purchase data.

KIT provides this vital 360-degree customer information which forms a core feature of the Clienteling app, one of various applications that Keytree provides for KIT customers.

The KIT team’s aim was to re-imagine the Clienteling experience for store associates, advisors, managers and customers alike ensuring the interactions are as fruitful as possible. Over the last two years, we have conducted workshops continually optimising our designs, inviting both clients and technology partners to engage in this collaborative process. KIT provides a Digital Black Book that helps advisors manage their daily tasks, along with product catalogue and stock visibility with an omni-channel basket and easy to use mobile payment capabilities.

In the world of retail, Clienteling software solutions are staking a claim as drivers of the primary strategy for ensuring store associates and their customers get the most from the omni-channel experience and ultimately help increase sales across the retail spectrum. Although online commerce has become the primary channel for many consumers, Keytree’s in-store Clienteling is revolutionising a continually evolving technology within the fast-moving digital landscape.

Customers expect a consistent digital experience, reflecting what they have in the comfort of their own home or on mobile but what KIT applications add is an enhanced personal touch, which they get from store associates but at a speed and efficiency that only recent accomplishments in the tech space can provide. The modern store associate needs to interact with the consumer beyond the boundaries of the physical store, and KIT retail solutions are becoming providers of this platform. Being able to communicate with and sell to customers without them visiting the store has immense sales benefits across all retail sectors.

Creating the ultimate shopping experience

It’s also important to breathe new life into the in-store experience via the mobile channel and not rely solely on an associate and traditional Point of Sale (POS). The NewStore Mobile Retail Report reviewed mobile websites, native apps and the in-store experience of 140 lifestyle, luxury and apparel brands. The findings show that only one in four store associates provided real-time inventory information while on the shop floor (via a device) and just 20 percent of those surveyed offer native shopping apps.

Software solutions such as KIT remedy these pain points, offering a selection of modules including a Catalogue, Runner App and customer Walkway App using the latest iOS AR technologies. We can ensure stock information is readily available, and items are instantly retrievable from the back of the store. Our Clienteling solutions will continue to develop and innovate to keep pace with the ever-changing needs of the customer.

Right now, ‘bricks and mortar’ still offer something that you cannot get online – the personal interaction between the customer and the brand. Using a Clienteling solution to amplify the experience is vital for business success and customer retention and will pull every channel together to create the ultimate omni-channel and customer experience.

How digital innovations are aiding high street retail

KIT blog store associates

Whether it’s for clothing, food or fun we all need to shop so we could say that everyone has an expert opinion on what creates the perfect shopping experience, but there are many eventualities to consider and overcome.

How long will a shopper remain in a store where product shelves are messy and randomly stacked? There is only one checkout available, and the line is far too long for your lunchtime visit? Where do you go for help when there’s no one around to ask – and when you find the store associate, how do you deal with the reply “it’s not my department.”

What appears at first glance as a list of grievances can also act as an inventory of areas where stores can improve. Let’s remember – customers will abandon their visit and go to a competitor if they have a negative shopping experience and the ultimate price to pay could be continued losses and eventually closure.

In 2016, 30 medium sized and large UK retail businesses closed the doors on 1,500 stores putting more than 26,000 people out of work, according to the Centre for Retail Research. But the problem is not getting customers into the building as 94 per cent of retail transactions still happen in the store, according to Deloitte. The challenge is providing the expected level of in-store service in a new and innovative way.

Using innovation to create the ultimate experience

Retailers place varying levels of worth on innovation, but with the wealth of technology and solutions readily available, customers expect more from their shopping experience – in fact, it’s an approach demanded by consumers.

A recent report by PwC, in which they surveyed over 22,000 online shoppers from around the globe, states that two-thirds of those asked said their favourite retailer was quite innovative in some way. Although the retail sector is getting to grips with a range of technological improvements, such as social media engagement and delivery options – innovation should also be applied to create a seamless omni-channel experience.

Customers want to shop from anywhere – mobile phone, tablet, laptop, PC or wearable’s and whichever channel used it should be twinned with the traditional bricks and mortar store. Transaction and browsing data should be manipulated to inform store associates on customer likes and dislikes or help build a new style or outfit based on the latest must-have items.

Taking an innovative approach will be the game changer – ensuring customers receive the expected in-store experience that will keep them coming back for more.

Why Keytree In-store Technology can breathe new life into the high street

KIT store associate

E-commerce is a quick and easy way to purchase goods, but nine out of ten retail transactions take place in store and two-thirds of luxury consumers say they want to touch and feel a product before purchase – according to research from Deloitte and Google respectively.

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How mobile technology is changing the shop floor

KIT mobile innovation

blog: can mobile technology enhance the customer experience

Not everyone can work in a public-facing role, and fewer still have the gift of being able to meet customer needs – in a graceful and uncomplicated manner. An excellent store associate knows how to care for their clients and has a unique understanding of each client, gauging their interest through body language or by reacting to a comment.

Continue reading “How mobile technology is changing the shop floor”

The reinvention of the store associate

KIT store associate

Technology surrounds us. It can be used to drive cars, create virtual reality gaming, and it even allows you to turn on your heating while struggling home through the rush hour. In the utility market, smart meters use IoT technology to monitor and record consumption on an hourly basis, and GDS is entirely recreating governmental systems to meet user needs but what impact is technology having on the retail sector?

Before we look at what’s on offer we need to remember that not so long ago the industry was facing nothing but doom and gloom. In the ‘90s, the dot-com bubble brought us many new offerings including e-commerce. At the time, many thought the future of the high street was under threat predicting that ‘bricks and mortar’ was a thing of the past. The bubble burst and the stores are still firmly rooted in their foundations, but 20 years later, these same stores are on the verge of a technological revolution.

But the use of technology in the retail sector doesn’t need to create new ways of getting customers into the building as 94 per cent of retail transactions still take place in the store, according to Deloitte’s 2014 research – The New Digital Divide. The onus is on the customer journey and providing the highest level of service, combining all channels to create the ultimate omni-channel.

Giving store associate’s the tools to improve the customer experience

The role of the store associate should be more than pointing you towards the changing rooms or fetching a different colour sweater. It’s time for the retail sector to realise that there’s more a store associate can offer customers, and there’s an easier way for them to do their job – by deploying Keytree In-store Technology.

As the store associate is usually the first point of reference for any client and is also the face of the business, retailers should be providing these valuable employees with the tools that will help improve the customer experience by nurturing valuable customer relationships through digital. Keytree In-store Technology (KIT) provides the perfect tool for managing tasks in one centralised solution, and the KIT dashboard gives users the ability to create, edit and manage tasks, calendars, team meetings and client appointments – working directly from the app.

Online or in-store – KIT also provides a complete omni-channel view of customer activity giving store associates instant access to customer needs, preferences and purchasing history. By having all customer information in one place, store associates can view wish lists, in-process shopping carts, social media profiles and communication history for each and every registered customer.

This approach ensures the customer gets a more personalised service each and every time they come into the store and store associates can access the information needed and never to miss a sale. It’s time to combine online and in-store offerings and give store associates the power of today. So whether it’s identifying who’s entering the store or creating bespoke styles online to match a customer’s preference, the future of shopping lies in the palm of the store associates hand.