Achieve True OmniChannel Excellence
So your business is on its way to successfully complete another year of operation; you have leveraged the trends of 2016 and are prepared to be on top for next year’s trends. You’ve improved your Omnichannel marketing efforts and realized the importance of good In-Store Marketing programs. Both your store and your website are easy to navigate and logically merchandised. So now what?
Retail sales have always been based on a one-to-one relationship between the buyer and the seller. In the case of a small business, like a sole proprietorship retail store, a shrewd retailer works to know his or her customers inside and out. This means understanding their individual preferences, purchasing patterns, propensities to spend, shopping behavior and likes and dislikes. Any retailer who is able to establish a relationship with his or her customers with that intrinsic knowledge is able to achieve higher sales.
As the size of retail businesses grew, it became difficult for a small retailer or a sales staff to maintain these kinds of informational details with the buyers. And soon, as the size of retail businesses grew, it became impossible to maintain that kind of a database. The individual relationships between buyers and retailers suffered…
With the advent of e-commerce; the tables turned. Retailers saw many changes as a portion of their trade shifted to online buying. Online retailers offered various incentives, freebies, and discounts. Physical retail store traffic saw a fall in numbers accordingly. But after the initial impact, multi-channel shopping began. Buyers realized that the experience of shopping from a brick and mortar retail store was pleasant and complete with its own set of good qualities.
Retail store traffic, big and small, bounced back. One thing the e-commerce explosion had done was condition consumers to provide details about themselves as part of creating an account or completing a transaction. Soon retailers realized that this was an opportunity to know their brick and mortar customers more intimately, almost the way a small business knows its best customers, only this time on a larger scale and supported by big data. Marketers and information technology came together to create in-store customer knowledge bases- using techniques like exclusive discounts, rewards, loyalty programs, and even store credit card programs, to collect data around past buying behavior, spending patterns and more. This new, individualized level of marketing and customer interaction is known as “clienteling”. Clienteling is obviously dependent on a technology interface, at the hands of sales associates in store. Tablets and the latest software help provide a more personalized, informed and meaningful experience for the customers in a retail store. When customers feel known and valued, it leads to higher customer satisfaction and, ultimately additional sales for the store.
From the retailer perspective, “Clienteling” data on the customer’s buying preferences aids in making suggestions for add-on items, helps to target a typical spend level of the customer, and makes it possible to find in-depth product details not always available online.
More Than a Database
Clienteling should not be classified as just technology. An iPad app for associates or a huge Customer Relationship Management (CRM) database is not enough. While these are powerful tools to assist your store associates in building long lasting and meaningful relationships with customers, communicating to potential buyers the level of service they can expect to receive prior to engaging the sales associate is equally as important. Merchandising goes hand in hand with Clienteling by communicating the type of superior, individualized service customers can expect. Then customers need to be “warmed” to the idea of having an associate help them. Retailers can’t access the Clienteling data “gold” if customers are resistant to being approached by an associate.
Given below are some of the signs which indicate that a retail business needs clienteling:
- Idle retail sales associates.
- Declining customer traffic.
- Reduced or stagnant conversions.
- Reduction in transaction size.
- Associates do not know the profile of best customers of the business.
Omnichannel marketing is a multi-channel approach to sales which provides an integrated or seamless shopping experience to a customer irrespective of whether he is shopping online from a mobile or desktop device, over the telephone, or physically in a brick and mortar retail store. To achieve excellence here, there must be an integration of the experience for the consumer and an integration of data for sales associates.
In other words, whether I am an online customer or a retail store customer, I can expect:
- Identical Branding
- Identical Offers
- Logical Assortments of “add-on” or accompanying items (possibly presented as “may we also suggest”)
- Easy navigation between departments and to merchandise
- My purchase traits and history
Mastering the Omnichannel experience and practicing clienteling will yield multiple benefits for your retail store. Better customer engagement results in sales, retention of customers, higher referrals, loyalty and a long-term, mutually beneficial, relationship between the retailer and the customer.
About the Author
Justin Lincoln – Digital Marketing Manager
Justin translates organizational objectives and business needs into marketing campaigns, social media strategies, and communication plans. When he’s not gathering insights from piles of analytical data, Justin is training soldiers on SATCOM equipment or reviewing commercials on Twitter. Connect with him on Linkedin!