Mobile CRM Drives Retailer ‘Clienteling’ Makeover


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Mobile CRM Drives Retailer ‘Clienteling’ Makeover

Remember the old-time shopkeeper who knew his customers so well that he practically had their orders ready when they walked through the door?

In practice, few of us have probably known this type of retail experience. But it’s an interaction that many of us would prize and that retailers are now looking to create to boost both customer loyalty and revenue.

To make this happen, retailers are focusing on empowering their sales reps, in part by giving salespeople in their stores access to the same types of customer relationship management (CRM) tools and techniques that a sales team working for a more traditional company — be it in the manufacturing, pharmaceutical or high-tech sector — might enjoy.

Clienteling For The Mobile CRM Age

In retail parlance, optimizing the in-store — or point-of-sale — relationship between sales reps and customers is known as “clienteling.” When done correctly, it results in better brand loyalty, higher levels of sales and fewer instances of customers skipping out to compare products or prices with competitors.

From our experience working with numerous retailers, including customers such as Sephora, it’s clear that CRM-driven clienteling is hot. Progressive stores are already testing or employing techniques that give their salespeople better customer-facing capabilities. Within five years, I predict these next-generation practices will become widespread.

Goals: Efficiency Gains, Greater Sales

One impetus for pushing CRM-driven clienteling involves efficiency. Notably, the number of salespeople has been declining in recent years, meaning businesses are attempting to do more with less. Many retailers, however, still put a greeter at the door — thanks a lot for that innovation, Walmart — and a salesperson will occasionally bother you to see if you’re finding what you need. (I wonder how many shoppers know that the majority of salespeople still work on commission?)

Instead of this random-encounter model, consider what Burberry can do when you walk into one of its stores: A sales rep approaches you, politely asks who you are, then uses a web app on an iPad to retrieve your purchase history, and perhaps your size, so that they can be more helpful, physically show you specific options and, thus, likely sell you more products.

Retail Future: Your Smartphones Share Preferences

Building on the Burberry example, one forthcoming big retail leap forward will involve customers being able to communicate this type of information wirelessly. Related efforts are already underway, for example involving Apple’s iBeacons, which use wireless networking (in this case, a protocol known as Bluetooth Low Energy) to share data between a mobile device and an in-store wireless sensor (a.k.a. beacon).

Imagine the applications. For starters, shoppers could authorize payments from their mobile devices. With everyone carrying these smartphones, of course, shoppers would also have the opportunity to broadcast or communicate their shopping preferences — for example, via a “Burberry app” — as well as other essential information, such as skin tone, color preferences and dress size.

Another under-design system would give shoppers an app that they could use to scan the tags of any items of clothing in which they’re interested, all of which would be automatically delivered by robots — in the customer’s correct size and color preference — to a fitting room for them to try on after they finish browsing the racks. Talk about removing friction from the retail buying experience.

What’s In Your (Digital) Wallet?

You should also expect retailers to run promotions and loyalty programs that tap these capabilities. Using a store’s loyalty app, for example, you could store relevant personal information, which would be beamed to a store employee’s tablet when you entered, thus allowing them to greet you by name and help ensure that you have rapid access to the exact information or products you’re seeking. They can even use your information to recommend products you might not have known about but would likely interest you. In addition, for stores where you shop regularly — in my case, J.Crew — rather than emailing you coupons, the greeter could simply offer you a one-off coupon when you enter the store and beam it to your smartphone.

Behind the scenes, meanwhile, retailers could mine related data — iBeacons allow retailers to track shoppers’ locations — to see how customers en masse browse their stores in order to better refine store layouts and flow and maximize sales or take-up of promotions.

The future of clienteling, in other words, will involve numerous changes: retailers building and tapping better big data about shoppers’ preferences and purchase histories, new types of loyalty programs and ongoing, data-driven changes to the in-store shopping experience, not least to make use of today’s ever-present smartphones.

Will going to the mall ever be same?

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user See-Ming Lee.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


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