Momentarily, the pandemic seems, hopefully, to be at its ending. However, retailers are left with a different perception of the role of their physical stores within their organization. We see that a large shift has been made towards more e-commerce focused, digital driven organizations. How does this affect the way retailers work after the Covid-19 pandemic? It seems certain that, due to the investments in the digitization of the organizations, stores aren’t going to be delivering the same type of services as before the pandemic. It will be different, but what will retailers do with their phycial stores role be in this post-pandemic era?
We have seen companies accelerating in merging the offline and digital channels over the last year, even more than in the years before. This so-called ‘fusion of digital and offline channels’ creates new opportunities for stores. And we believe that they should definitely make use of these opportunities to ensure a sustainable future. Have a digital ecosystem around your business isn’t just a nice-to-have anymore, it has become a must. The expectations and demands of customers visiting offline stores have changed, and businneses should react.
Read more about the merging channels in our dedicated article on this topic. In this article, we would like to highlight an important solution for retailers, to extent the digital channels to their offline stores: clienteling.
What is clienteling?
Clienteling is the process and technology that enables store employees to deliver personal customer service on the spot, based on data. This data includes information on personal preferences, order history, loyalty status of both historic offline and online customer interaction. With this information, you make use of, among others, the following opportunities:
- In-store employees gain direct insights into the stock as well as the possibility to order out of stock items on the spot.
- Personalized insights into both order history as well as the right sizes, wishes and preferences of the customer.
- Upsell opportunities through selecting matching and commonly combined items.
To gain most out of clienteling, it is important to create consistency through all different channels throughout the company. Therefore, it’s advised to work with a single source of truth, meaning that all data is gathered and enriched within a single CRM platform, connecting all available channels. This way, you make sure that data is always up-to-date and that optimal service can be provided across all channels.
Additional features in clienteling
Clienteling does not only deliver data on personal information and preferences, but covers much more opportunities. For example, different features can be combined into a single store app. To deliver the highest possible engagement, the following feature are to be included:
- Customer profiling. Of course, the creation and delivery of insights of a profile is the base of a clienteling solution. Make sure that, whichever channel is used, it is possible to update the details through the app. Preferences, sizes and personal information can change, so give control over the data to service agents and customers themselves.
- Loyalty program. Within the engagement process, the role of a loyalty program is an important one. Loyal customers want to be recognized for their behavior and loyalty, so make sure that this status is provided to the service agents within the clienteling technology. Also, when customers are not completely happy on the spot, make it possible to assign points, perks or rewards to this customer. Also, the registration of purchases should of course be easily integrated, so the customer does not need to make a lot of efforts or waist time in scanning or registering their loyalty card or app. Service agents should be able to unburden these customers and provide the best service possible.
- Stock information. There is not much as annoying as when the preferred item is out of stock and you cannot get it at that moment or soon after. This bad customer experience decreases customer engagement and therefore, retailers should avoid this happening. But this can be solved, by monitoring stock through the clienteling solution, you can service your customers with the right information on availability, and even order the required item directly on the spot, for delivery at home.
- Digital ordering. In relation to the stock information, digital ordering via the clienteling solution gives flexibility to both customers and retailers. On the one side, customers can try an item and the right size, and then have it send to their homes. On the other side, the retailer can have less items of one size in stock, which decreases entrepreneurial risks of having large stocks. Of course, all channels and processes should be perfectly aligned to deliver a great customer experience.
- Check-out / payment. Of course, check-out and payment should be included, because when you as a customer have been serviced by an agent, want to check-out, it is pretty annoying to stand in line to pay at the counter. By including the payment in the single clienteling / store app, you speed up the process and increase customer satisfaction. With a few ticks, you can check-out and have the customer pay. As easy and fast as possible, with engaged customers as result.
The future for retail
We believe that clienteling is an essential solution for creating a flexible retail organization and to be sustainable and future proof. The future of retail could shift to fully drive digital commerce, where the role of physical stores is drastically changing. It could become mainly about showcasing and trying out products, where orders are digitally processed and directly send to people’s home addresses. No hazzle for the shoppers, less risk for the retailer.
VANEIGENS provides a clienteling solution that encompasses different solutions into one store app, that serves store employees all required data to provide next level customer service, to ensure the highest rate of engagement and of course, more enthusiastic and loyal customers. Want to know more about what we can do for your organization? Contact us for an open inspiration session!