If you’ve been trying to expand your retail brand in the past year, you probably don’t need us to tell you that there is a shortage of workers in the retail space. Even as wages have increased nearly 7% year-over-year and unemployment continues to fall, the demand for retail workers continues to trend upward in 2022.
The reasons for this are plenty: higher paying job opportunities in other sectors, lingering pandemic issues, low job satisfaction, and more. But addressing these issues can take months, if not years. But right now, retailers are headed into the busy holiday shopping season. What can be done today to help alleviate labor shortage pains, while also maintaining a standard of clienteling that your customers expect?
Keep in mind, clienteling is what drives more sales and revenue in the retail space. Of retailers who leverage an omnichannel clienteling strategy, 63% saw more engaged customers, 56% saw increased sales, and 44% saw improved customer loyalty.
But if clienteling involves a personal connection with your customers, how can a small team plagued by the labor shortage keep it up?
Retail CRMs Increase Team Efficiency
When your hiring struggles, technology can step in to help busy retail teams do more with less. A robust Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is one of the most cost-effective ways to continue to service clients in an intimate manner even when your stores are lacking workers.
In fact, teams that use CRMs see between $5.60 and $8.71 ROI for each dollar spent on the software (Endear users report ROI even higher than that), as well as up to a 41% increase in revenue sales for each salesperson.
This is because a good CRM can do much of the busy work that takes up a team’s time, providing operational efficiencies and streamlined workflows. But perhaps the key value of a CRM comes from it being “a single source of truth for customer data,” which is how a Salesforce report described it. In fact, 80% of those surveyed in this report said that this would provide a significant value to their team.
Instead of disparate containers of client information, all the relevant histories, purchases, communications, actions, and notes for each customer are captured in the CRM. This makes it easy for associates to pick up where another associate left off on the customer journey, or for a single associate to manage many more customers at once.
Let’s look at a few practical ways your retail CRM can give you that efficiency boost during a labor shortage.
Have Personalized Communications En Masse
Clienteling lives and dies on great, personalized communication with customers. Responding to emails or SMS messages promptly with product images or suggestions, reconnecting with clients who haven’t come into your store in a while, and following up with recent purchases are all crucial to driving more repeat business - but can be time consuming to do one at a time.
Luckily, a good retail CRM will have features like email templates already pre-made with your branding and main messaging in place. Add a few sentences and, in seconds, your team can send out mass promotional campaigns to your audience. And since communication is sent and received in your CRM, your team can also set up auto-responders to do the heavy lifting of prbgoviding prompt responses to standard questions.
SMS is an even more personal way of communicating with your customers, which is quickly becoming the method of choice for clienteling. Instead of trying to manage multiple customer text threads using a single device, your team can do what the team at Morley does using a CRM:
According to apparel brand, Morley, “When we’re slow, we can get to everyone [via texting], but when we’re busy we don’t have the time," Boroian explained. "With Endear, one person can create a campaign to thousands of customers with new arrivals. Or a stylist/associate can take five minutes to send a mass text to their clients."
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Leverage Virtual Curations, Recommendations, and Appointments
Clienteling is offering a 1-on-1 shopping experience, often akin to a client working with a personal shopper. Of course, that sort of service takes a massive amount of time for your in-store associates. If your brand is struggling to expand your team due to the retail labor shortage, virtual clienteling may be the way to go.
Your retail CRM empowers your team to curate specific products for specific customers, and send them right into their inbox. And because modern CRMs are available as mobile apps, your team can use their smartphone to snap pictures of products on-the-fly to send to customers.
Better yet, if your CRM has a feature like Endear’s Shoppable Stories, you can send actionable, visually-striking lookbooks to your customer’s phone.
The curation of a Story comes from the previous shopping/browsing history capture in your CRM, and the “actionable” part comes from each Story being tappable to start the checkout process right from their phone. This way, recommendations convert to sales at a higher rate.
Of course, sometimes there is nothing that can replace a one-on-one styling session. That’s when virtual appointments can be leveraged over a video conference. Again, having each customer’s shopping history in your CRM can help make these virtual appointments effective, and a single associate can handle multiple customers over video, one right after the other.
Perform Analysis & Track Metrics to Find More Efficiencies
Doing more clienteling with less workers means always looking to find more efficiencies in your day-to-day workflow. Your CRM can help you find both the bottlenecks in your sales process, as well as where your reps are performing well beyond expectations which you can then replicate across your team.
Find actionable analytics in your retail CRM such as tracking which reps are sending the most effective messages, who has the highest conversion rates, and which marketing campaigns see the best ROI. This way, you can strategize around the highest-impact actions that drive sales and revenue, and spend less precious time on the activities that do not move the needle.
Managers often underestimate the amount of time it takes not just to analyze their data, but to permeate the findings and best-practices to their team. Teaching can take time, especially if some workers are part-time. One way to help your team members share insights and “teach themselves” is to use a sales leaderboard.
Leaderboards are a way to show what’s working best, and spark your team to learn by example from your most efficient sellers.
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