We might live in an electric world, but for most customers, there’s just no replacing that in-store shopping experience. A recent survey showed that “54% of consumers prefer brick-and-mortar retail to any other channel.” While ecommerce is incredibly important to any modern business, especially when it comes to customer retention, shoppers are still looking to get that personal, tactile experience that comes with walking into a store.
But to engage with the modern shopper in a physical store means offering an elevated experience. After all, there’s a reason they’re not just shopping on their phones at home. Your brand has to make the in-store experience more personal and offer more value than ever before.
That’s why brands that can offer a clienteling experience typically win their interactions with customers.
What is in-store clienteling?
Clienteling is providing a customized, personal experience to each shopper using the data in your CRM. By tracking their online/in-store browsing and purchase history, brands can offer personalized recommendations and specific marketing messages to each customer.
In-store clienteling is an extension of this level of service and care, but is simply offered by well-trained sales associates in real-time. You still leverage CRM data to cater to each customer. You still make personalized recommendations. But the human-to-human interaction is what really sells your brand and gives shoppers a reason to come back again and again.
Let’s dive into how focusing on clienteling principles can make for great in-store customer interactions.
Prime the pump
Remember, clienteling takes place both on and off-line. It’s a full omnichannel retail strategy to give shoppers a unified experience across all your brand’s channels. That means your business can “prime the pump” by learning as much as you can about new and returning customers before they walk into your store.
Ask any salesperson and a “warm lead” is always better than a “cold lead” when making a sale. Ideally, you can lead a new customer to create a profile when they are browsing your site. By showing an email prompt for new customer promotions and discounts, the journey of understanding this new shopper can start there, by collecting 1st party data into your CRM platform.
In fact, you can design your new customer promo to be redeemable only in-store, to encourage their first physical visit, as well as giving them a reason to interact with one of your sales associates.
Another way to prime the pump is to offer new customers (and returning customers, if you have the bandwidth) appointment shopping. According to a report by Shopify, half of consumers appreciate the option to schedule a time for in-store shopping. Dedicating a sales associate to meet and assist a new customer for a 30 to 60 minute shopping session makes that first in-person interaction extremely personal and immediately puts a clienteling experience at the forefront of your relationship.
The beginning and end of great in-store clienteling is hiring amazing personnel. Harvard Business Review makes the case that great sales associates are still what matters in an increasingly digital age. They identify needs, they validate decisions, they help navigate choices; all things that even the best shopping software can’t replicate.
A great rep can retain a library in their heads of repeat customers. Being able to greet someone by their name creates an instant air of personalization and familiarity, prompting shoppers to return to your brand frequently.
Of course, your business can augment already skilled associates by arming them with the right technology. More and more, brands are providing mobile devices that can pull up their CRM platform, giving each sales associate access to any shopper’s history at the touch of a screen. This allows on-the-fly personalized recommendations according to past purchases, as well as ad-hoc bundles and even personalized discounts.
For new customers, great sales associates should greet them with a warm welcome, their own name, and a helpful tip for first-timers. For example:
“Welcome to Endear! I’m Ella and I can help you with just about anything you need today. We also have a digital kiosk over there where you can virtually try on our latest swimwear, by the way. Are you looking for something specific?”
While associates will get their fair share of “no thanks, just browsing,” research shows that 70% of shoppers eventually interact with a sales associate during their visit in-store to make a purchase. That’s why it’s important to stay present, but don’t hover.
Additionally, being able to provide “secret” deals and promotions can ingratiate your team to new and returning shoppers. Since most shop in-store using their mobile devices, you can empower your team to offer online deals for items they are looking at in-store:
“I think that scarf is actually 5% cheaper if you order it online. Want me to help you find it on our mobile site?”
This makes your rep look like a hero to the shopper, and goes a long way to strengthen that relationship. And since your brand is all about omnichannel retail anyway, it’s easy to attribute online sales to each sales associate when using a CRM like Endear.
The checkout experience
Oftentimes, checkout may be the only customer interaction your retail team may have. So it’s just as important a moment to offer an elevated clienteling experience as any other.
To start, make sure your checkout lines are short. As we mentioned in a previous article, 80% of customers would just leave if the wait was more than 15 minutes. One way to cut down on wait times is to have a mobile point of sale system, so your associates can checkout a customer right after they help them find the items they want to purchase. This level of ease and convenience will have them coming back time and again.
Also, your reps should be sure to introduce your loyalty program to new customers at checkout. Empower your team to offer a 5% instant discount for signing up with their phone numbers or email. They can even sweeten the pot by offering a 1-on-1 shopping appointment for new customers who sign up.
Finally, the sales associate should emphasize how easy returns are. An easy return process is a great conversation point and a reminder that the clienteling experience extends to after the purchase as well. With a CRM platform like Endear, your sales associates can even set up automated campaigns to follow up with customers after their first purchase. This can start a 2-way messaging conversation that strengthens your relationship with the customer, leading to repeat business in the future.
The best retail customer interactions happen when a brand can empower already great sales associates with great customer data. Endear can help. Check out a free demo of our CRM platform today.