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Today, with technological innovations, the state of the art has moved forward – paper notebooks have been replaced by apps that make information about customers even easier to record, organise and recall.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 firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the short form on our Contact page.
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 email@example.com or complete the short form on our Contact page.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the short form on our Contact page.
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 email@example.com or complete the short form on our Contact page.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.