Create Old-Fashioned In-Store Personalization With Leading-Edge Mobile Clienteling Software
Not that long ago, retailers knew their customers. Shoppers would stay loyal to their favorite stores and be rewarded with highly personalized customer service. Employees knew everything about customer purchasing habits and personal needs. This one-on-one relationship lasted for years — or even decades.
Although it existed until fairly recently, that type of personal retail relationship can feel like ancient history. The abundance of retail options, increasing employee turnover rates and the never-ending quest by shoppers to find the best deal have all combined to result in consumers abandoning the concept of retail loyalty in favor of convenience and cost savings.
The personalization gap is especially pronounced with brick-and-mortar retailers. When consumers shop online, e-tailers can use past purchases and browsing habits to offer personalized recommendations that can be surprisingly accurate. On the other hand, in a brick-and-mortar store, shoppers sometimes struggle to find an employee who can help, let alone offer a personalized experience based on past purchases and individual needs.
The notion of a brick-and-mortar personalization gap is supported by a recent study from Yes Lifecycle Marketing which found that only 13 percent of store associates have access to customer data to ensure a successful in-store customer experience. Study results also show that 42 percent of retail store associates know very little — if anything — about their most profitable customers. With numbers like these, it should come as no surprise that consumers sometimes feel like they’re on their own when they walk into a store.
The good news is that mobile clienteling software equipped with built-in barcode scanning capability can provide brick-and-mortar retailers with access to data about the preferences, behaviors and purchases of their customers. Forward-thinking retailers are already performing mobile clienteling in their stores. Here are four key benefits that are made possible by mobile clienteling software:
1. Engage customers seamlessly: Knowing what customers have already bought from your stores or website enables your sales associates to better personalize interactions with them. With a clienteling app by their side, associates will be better equipped to create opportunities to talk to customers and provide personalized, one-on-one customer service that builds loyalty.
By scanning a barcode or QR code on a customer’s loyalty card, associates can gain access to online and in-store shopping history. This data lets store personnel offer a seamless shopping experience that meets the expectations for immediacy and convenience of today’s constantly connected consumers. A clienteling app can also enable associates to provide customer-targeted upsell and cross-sell promotions, which might encourage them to increase the value of their transaction, both in price and quantity.
2. Always know what’s in stock: It’s not a great experience for customers when store employees have to run to the back of the store to find out if a product is in stock, only to return 15 minutes later saying that it’s not. During that wait time, retailers run the risk of having a customer give up on the purchase and leave the store.
Scan-based clienteling apps can provide inventory levels in real time, so store associates don’t have to abandon customers. Associates can even have access to stock across the enterprise to see if items might be available at another nearby store or for online order. Access to this type of immediate, in-depth inventory data helps ensure customers don't abandon their shopping carts.
3. Employees become product experts: A retailer’s sales associates shouldn’t know less about its products than consumers. Shoppers expect store associates to be more educated than they are about what the store is selling. This is especially true in a constantly connected environment where consumers use their own devices to look up information in-store. Associates must have immediate access to all relevant product details or they risk looking uninformed.
With a simple scan of a product barcode, mobile clienteling apps can deliver in-depth product information. Clienteling apps can even connect store employees to remotely located senior product experts in real time to help answer challenging or complex customer inquiries.
4. Gain sales insights: By analyzing the constant stream of scan data generated by clienteling apps, store managers can get a real-time look at store workflows, how employees are performing, and the overall impact on sales and customer service. In addition to obtaining insight into workflows and employee performance, managers can also gain deeper understanding of products.
For example, if associates frequently look up the inventory status of a particular item but consumers rarely follow through with a purchase, there's likely a product flaw preventing what otherwise should be an easy sale.
Even with these benefits in mind, there can be challenges that come with the deployment of mobile clienteling solutions, such as integration with back-end systems, device management, and data protection for corporate and customer data. To successfully integrate back-end IT systems with mobile hardware and software, internal IT departments and/or third-party software vendors or systems integrators may need to integrate mobile solutions with existing systems.
Without the proper back-end IT connectors for platforms such as SAP, NetSuite and IBM, this can be a time-consuming and challenging process. Third-party mobile application management and mobile device management providers such as Apperian, SOTI, AirWatch and MobileIron offer solutions to address concerns over device and application management, which gives IT decision makers peace of mind and protection from the many security threats facing enterprises today.
While mobilization may seem challenging to many business decision makers, it’s actually a smart, safe investment that will continue to pay off for years to come. By enabling store associates to provide personalized and knowledgeable assistance to consumers through barcode scan-based mobile clienteling, retailers can satisfy shopper expectations and stay ahead of their competition by providing service that builds loyalty in customers.
Samuel Mueller is the CEO and co-founder of Scandit, a barcode scanner SDK for iOS and Android developers.