Top retailers know the key to success is building meaningful relationships with their customers. And the impact of their relationship-building efforts — clienteling — can be substantial. Epsilon research reveals that 80 percent of consumers are more likely to do business with a company that personalizes experiences, and 90 percent find personalized service appealing. Accenture reports that 91 percent of consumers are more likely to shop where they’ll receive relevant offers and recommendations. Moreover, according to Segment, 71 percent of consumers are frustrated when they don’t receive personalized service.
Joshua Stanphill, Business Development Manager, Strategic Accounts for Epson America, says the industry is responding with technology tools that help retailers meet these demands. “Personalization is key and giving sales associates access to relevant data is at the top of the list,” he says.
Stanphill points out that although the concept of clienteling has been around for some time, it’s only become an integral part of customer experience strategies in the past few years. During that time, more retailers deployed mobile devices that provide sales associates with access to customer data. Retailers also implemented omnichannel retail management solutions that aggregate data from customer activity online and in-store and present it to sales associates in formats they can use to personalize experiences. Sales associates can use a mobile device in the aisles to access information on the customer’s past purchases, their online browsing history, and even items that are in their online carts.
Who Sees the Most Clienteling ROI?
Clienteling has become a standard part of top tier retail strategies, but Stanphill also sees smaller businesses in some segments, such as high-end fashion, beauty, and specialty retail, capitalizing on the trend.
“Clienteling solutions are the new version of the black book for these companies, and they’re more efficient,” he says. Any sales associate can personalize service for a customer — not only associates who know the customer from previous visits. Moreover, if a sales associate leaves the company, they don’t take information about key customers with them. It belongs to the retailer.
Innovative ISVs can also capitalize on the clienteling trend by providing solutions to new niches that are just discovering its benefits. Stanphill says the demand for clienteling solutions is emerging, for example, in the office supply segment where sales associates can personalize service based on the customer’s business. “It really helps when someone walks in and you can see who they are and show them product lines that they’ve used,” Stanphill says. “It takes away some of the pressure sales associates can feel to remember what the customer has purchased in the past and allows them to engage in more genuine interaction in the moment.”
Stanphill stresses that clienteling solutions that enable direct communication with customers are particularly valuable to retailers and sales associates. This function gives sales associates the ability to text or email a customer that a new item arrived that they think they’ll like or send a look book of a new product line. “It’s a great feature for sales associates working on commission,” Stanphill comments, “and it helps the bottom line of retailers.”
Where Retailers Will Find Clienteling Features in the Future
As clienteling is becoming more desirable in retail management solutions, Stanphill anticipates seeing clienteling supported mainly with mobile solutions, as they provide the means of efficiency, maneuverability and interactions within stores needed to increase customer experiences and loyalty.
“Software companies provide retailers with solutions that ensure the books are clean, but it’s also their responsibility to help their clients grow, build relationships and increase sales,” Stanphill says. “Clienteling allows software companies to be a part of that.”
He advises ISVs to look for gaps in current solutions that can make them more valuable to retailers, for example, organizing information that sales associates may enter in a “notes” field so that it can be shared.
Stanphill says also to remember that mastering clienteling is about more than pulling up data on a customer. “It’s important for software companies to provide more relevant information, but also to help retailers enhance customer experiences,” he says.
Additionally, he advises ISVs to pay attention to another trend: “Clienteling has become a deciding factor when retailers choose a POS or retail management solution. It’s one of the most important components to them.”