A generation ago, people shopped by visiting a retailer, chatting with the salesclerk, browsing and building relationships. An associate would place a call to customers if a new shipment arrived with pieces that were "just perfect" for them.
It's that sense of a personal touch that is critical to the success of brick and mortar to this day.
Online retail’s forfeited advantage
Several years ago, online retailers had the advantage over brick and mortars as they could efficiently collect much more data about customers at every visit.
They knew what pages the shopper had visited, which items were of interest, and how many times they visited before they purchased items.
That amount of information would take far longer for a traditional retailer to collect, at that time.
Fast forward five years, and technology can now provide brick and mortars with deeper information than ever before.
Now brick and mortars have an advantage over their online competitors, as their stores morph into showrooms where shoppers can physically inspect products, and associates can make personal connections.
Building relationships in-store
Today's retailers employ clienteling strategies to build customer relationships based on data collected about their preferences, purchases, lifestyle and other behavior.
Within stores, retailers are equipping associates with customer information that lets them deliver personalized service.
Clienteling software can be used to compile customer data from different channels – from in-store purchases to online browsing history to items stored on wish lists.
The in-store shopping experience can then be tailored to fit each customer’s unique interests and desires.
Such anticipation of needs enhances the customers' in-store shopping experience and helps associates sell more effectively.
Staying top of mind
Clienteling data not only enhances the shopping experience for those in physical stores but is also used by associates to reach out to customers between visits.
Clienteling technology can be used to create alerts about any event that forms a customer connection.
Associates with access to customers' spouses' birthdates, for example, might place a well-timed call detailing the latest merchandise that would make a great gift.
And stock alerts can be correlated to specific customers, so contact can be made when a new shipment from a specific vendor arrives.
Such focused, one-to-one outreach is extraordinarily effective in attracting repeat customers and sales of high-margin, full-price items.
Machine learning drives personalized recommendations
Intelligent product recommendations aren't limited to preparing for a customer's future shopping excursions: They can also be used real-time when the customer is in the store.
Store associates can greet and engage with individual customers, anticipate their needs and function as a trusted advisor.
Software tools that incorporate machine learning transform mounds of customer data into insightful, targeted and personalized product recommendations. Machine learning digests every page view, every "like" and every purchase.
The result is increasingly smarter recommendations.
Clienteling solutions help retailers identify customers' needs efficiently and quickly, so the shopping experience is ultimately more rewarding.
Implementing clienteling tools provides retailers and their associates the necessary tools to build long-lasting, profitable and mutually beneficial relationships.