Merging In-Store Clienteling with Online Marketing Segmentation: A Retailer's Guide

Transform your retail strategy with personalized clienteling. Explore actionable tips to blend in-store experiences seamlessly with digital segmentation for unmatched customer engagement.

Two women at a retail checkout counter. Merging In-Store Clienteling with Online Marketing Segmentation: A Retailer's Guide

In today's hyper-competitive retail landscape, brands that can offer a great, personalized customer experience are best poised to stand out from their peers. Brands are increasingly vying for a slice of the consumer's attention and wallet, but those that succeed are those that make their customers feel understood, valued, and catered to. There’s a reason why studies show that consumers are willing to pay 16% more for a cup of coffee simply due to receiving great customer experience, aka clienteling.

One of the most promising strategies emerging in the retail industry is the fusion of traditional in-store clienteling with modern online marketing segmentation. By combining the intimacy of in-store one-on-one service with the precision of online personalized messaging, retailers can craft an unparalleled shopping experience. In fact, the former should be driven by the latter – creating a repeatable strategy of converting customer relationships that start online into one that’s in-person.

Let’s delve into four actionable tips for retail brands to seamlessly merge these two realms and captivate their audience.

1. Harnessing CRM Data to Digitally Offer In-Store-Only Promotions

A brand's Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a goldmine of customer data that remains the key to personalized messaging, be it email, SMS, or chat. By leveraging the insights culled from the CRM, brands can segment their audience based on purchasing habits, style preferences, browsing behavior, and important to the current topic: location.

Imagine a customer who often browses leather goods online but never completes a purchase. By segmenting such an audience, brands can craft personalized promotions, such as a discount on leather items, but with a twist: the discount can only be redeemed in-store. Not only does this entice the customer with a relevant offer, but it also drives foot traffic, bridging the online-to-offline gap.

But brands can offer even more to entice segments of their audience to their brick & mortar locations. Maybe the leather discount also comes with a personalized styling session. Or it’s a “bring a friend” promo to offer discounts to someone else as well. Brands that can experiment with the right combination of enticing digital promotions with the right one-on-one clienteling in-store experience can increase not just engagement, but conversions into sales as well.

2. Virtual Styling Appointments to In-Store Experiences

In the age of digital transformation, online consultations are gaining traction. For fashion and lifestyle brands, offering one-on-one virtual styling sessions can be a game-changer. Through these sessions, brands can understand the shopper's style, preferences, and needs; all while the customer experiences it from the comfort of her home.

After a successful online consultation, transition the conversation by offering an in-store styling session for the next meet. This encourages the customer to visit the store, where the likelihood of making a purchase increases significantly. The beauty lies in establishing that initial relationship online, making the in-store experience a natural progression of the journey.

And that jump is a relatively easy one to make. After all, your stylist will recommend pieces that are only in-store for the shopper to try the next time they’re there. Brands can elevate this experience even further by pre-pulling those recommended pieces, and others, and having them waiting in a reserved dressing room for the customer’s appointed style-session. Again, elevating that in-person experience is the best way to capitalize on good online engagement.

Of course, offering this level of service can strain a small in-store team. Look at your CRM data to offer virtual-to-store sessions to your top 20% of shoppers first, segmenting out your biggest spenders in order to make each appointment worth it.

3. Intimate SMS Campaigns: Making It Personal

While emails can often go unread, SMS boasts an impressive open rate. Capitalize on this by rolling out targeted SMS campaigns to specific audience segments. But don't just stop at promotions. Allow for two-way conversations, enabling customers to interact directly with a store representative. Endear’s own Shoppable Stories can turn a simple text dialogue into a virtual gallery of personalized recommendations, intelligently queued up by the data in the CRM.

Drive Conversions with Personalized SMS: A Marketer's Must-Read Guide

Sharing products in a story-like format with Endear.

This approach gives rise to intimate one-on-one conversations, reminiscent of traditional clienteling. Any dialogue builds trust, loyalty, and a deeper connection; but dialogue empowered by in-depth customer knowledge can have the effect of elevating each brand-interaction in the eyes of each shopper. Of course, as conversations progress, store reps can nudge customers toward in-store visits, where the real magic happens.

Holding multiple SMS conversations can be a daunting task for retail teams, but the right CRM platform can intelligently segment the audience and initiate text conversations en masse. Check out our previous post on the best practices for engaging customers through SMS for more tips.

4. The Rise of Virtual Clienteling

In general, all of the previous sections were building to this. While physical stores offer tactile experiences, the online realm presents an opportunity for "virtual clienteling." This involves mimicking the in-store experience online, complete with personalized recommendations, one-on-one chat assistance, and even virtual store tours. This is the true power of a robust CRM platform that can segment a brand’s audience into manageable groups, and spark personalized conversations.

By being able to offer a virtual white-glove service through a smartphone, brands can make much more of their customers feel valued, even if they're sitting behind a screen miles away – and even if they’re not in-store. And once they've experienced the brand's commitment to service online, they're more inclined to visit in person, seeking that same level of personalized attention.

The future of retail lies at the intersection of traditional clienteling and cutting-edge online segmentation. By creating tailored experiences that begin online and culminate in-store, brands can foster deeper relationships, drive sales, and distinguish themselves in a crowded marketplace.

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